By Serran Soledad
Eighteen-year-old Black high school student and Walmart worker Rodney Reese was arrested, and charged with “pedestrian in a roadway” by the Plano, Texas police on February 16, while walking home during the major winter storm which struck the entire state. The charges were dropped a week later after his family spoke out and the incident garnered widespread outrage.
Released body-cam footage shows an officer following Reese, who was headed home from a late shift at Walmart. Police claimed to be acting on a “welfare check,” after a resident reported seeing a Black man walking and stumbling in the street through the storm.
The officer can be heard demanding Reese stop and talk to them on the grounds that “he was walking in the road.” Reese declines to stop, apologizes, and says he’s just on his way home, later explaining that he was walking in the road to avoid the icy sidewalks.
The officer follows him for blocks before additional officers get involved, pulling up in a police SUV as Reese nears his home.
“Please don’t touch me,” says Reese, as he’s being probed by an officer. “My house is literally right there.” Another officer then raises his voice telling the teenager he’s being detained before multiple officers surround and cuff him. Reese spent the night in jail, and was released the following day.
Plano police chief Ed Drain has since stated that the officers should have simply given the teenager a ride home instead of arresting him, but still backs them up and argues their actions were justified, claiming they were unaware of Reese’s age, where he worked, or where he lived.
A press conference was organized in which Reese and his mother, Rachel Brown, condemned the arrest as an instance of racial profiling against a Black youth who was scared for his life. “I wanted to go home,” Reese says. “Young Black men like me, we’re scared of the police. They kill and harass us.”
“He probably rang up groceries for some of those officers’ wives or families that night,” said Brown. “He stayed over late because there were so many people that called in to work that day because the roads were bad.”
A week after the arrest, charges against the teenager were dropped and Police Chief Drain announced there would be an “administrative inquiry” to evaluate the department’s policies and procedures in need of policy change.
Despite his hard efforts in extreme conditions, the racist police officers were more interested in harassing the young Reese than making sure he got home safely after carrying out work that sustained many people during the capitalist-caused crisis in the midst of the winter storm.
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