Black Senator's Son Detained By Police For Helping Neighbors

State Senator’s Son Detained By Police While Helping Family In Need (VIDEO)

Detained By Police For Unlawful Possession Of… A Turkey?

No good deed goes unpunished. Isiah Taylor was delivering a turkey to a needy family in his Milwaukee neighborhood when police performed a search and seizure without any probably cause. Officers stopped the teenager, patted him down, and put him in the back of their squad car. His mother, Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor, told Milwaukee’s Fox News affiliate about her son’s experience being detained by police:

“It was traumatic. When you saw that it was a turkey, and he told you that he was going to this house, two houses away, what was the purpose of holding him any longer?”

State Senator Taylor delivered a holiday bag of food to over 750 needy families. Each bag included a whole turkey, and her son was merely helping her with this charitable effort. She commented on the incident further in a Facebook post:

The devil tried to steal our joy yesterday after we blessed 750 plus families with holiday food bags, when this happen as we proceeded to bless our neighbors with a turkey!

Posted by Lena C. Taylor on Tuesday, December 22, 2015

This unnecessary harassment by the police is all too commonly experienced by the African American community. It breeds a sense of fear and oppression, and broadens the disconnect felt between police departments and the communities they serve. Police called their actions “lawful,” but remaining lawful is not necessarily synonymous with good policing, and communities should demand more from their police departments than merely remaining lawful in their interactions with citizens.

Isiah Taylor’s experience was that of intimidation, as probable cause any crime was committed was completely nonexistent after a simple inquiry revealed the teen was just carrying a turkey. This subversion of authoritative power is fundamentally dangerous to democracy, and the responsibility to speak out against this type of behavior bears no exemption from any American, no matter their race, gender, religious or political party affiliation.

Even though Isiah Taylor did nothing wrong, he was treated as though he was guilty before proven innocent rather than what our criminal justice system is supposed to be based upon; innocent until proven guilty. He was presumably under suspicion for the color of his skin, which invited intense scrutiny on the basis that since he was an African-American male running, he is painted in the context of a wrong doer who warrants this type of scrutiny. There is a fundamental tension between the offensive role of police departments trying to eradicate criminal activity and the role of protecting the community.

In many communities of color across the United States, the offensive role of policing supersedes the stewardship role of protecting a community—to the extent where police departments become an arm of oppression and fear, more so than criminal activity conducted by citizens in itself.  Racial profiling places criminal suspicion on innocent people, which is why probable cause, some evidence of wrongdoing, justifies the type of probing Isiah Taylor experienced. This type of intrusion is not utilized when it comes to policing white communities. In the 4th amendment, the constitution forbids unreasonable search and seizure in advance of any criminal activity.

The corollary argument that often arises to search and seizures of this nature is that if a person has nothing to hide, they have no reason to care whether they are subjected to them by police. This argument disregards the right in its entirety from illegal search and seizures, and sets a dangerous precedent for violations of privacy. You cannot have a free society without the right to privacy. Isiah Taylor’s violation of his right to privacy and any complacency of that violation invites a more constrained, authoritative, and oppressive society.

Video Detailing The Incident By CBS 58:

CBS 58

Photo by (vincent desjardins)  and Lena Taylor.

Freelance Journalist based in Gainesville, Florida. Binghamton University Alum

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