An unidentified police officer from Tucson, Arizona, has been caught on video pushing an elderly woman to the ground while she was participating in an anti-Trump protest in early February.
Bodycam footage obtained by Tuscon News Now shows the cop and 86-year-old engaging in a verbal argument, after which he pushed her, causing her to fall to the ground. Apparently, the protester was pointing to the officer and shouting harsh words.
The woman taking part in “A Day Without Immigrants” protest was soon noticed by a retired school teacher, Rolande Baker, who proceeded to help her get back up. But the same officer pepper sprayed her, causing her excruciating pain and temporary blindness.
That's my friend who was pushed down, I'm 1 Green pepper sprayed! It was so very disgusting 2 see the TPD act this way!Welcome 2 Trump's????! https://t.co/PrcHFu3zgH— Rolande Baker (@rolandeb) March 1, 2017
Addressing the incident, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus published a note on Facebook alleging a specific subgroup of protesters chose to remain in the middle of the road despite being repeatedly told to move onto the sidewalks.
He also wrote of the various challenges officers present on site faced while controlling the crowd, as they were outnumbered by protesters. “One of the officers working to get a protester back to the sidewalk was assaulted by that protester. When the officer went to arrest this subject and place him in a patrol car for transport, he and the other officers who were assisting him were quickly surrounded by members of the crowd,” Magnus added.
Baker, who has been participating in peaceful rallies and protests in Tucson since she moved there in 1987, told The Washington Post that the police were “way more aggressive” than she has ever seen.
“Here’s this woman on the ground, and they’re so busy pepper-spraying those who were helping her, they never help her up. Do we look violent to you?” she went on.
According to members of an immigrant rights group Lucha Unida de Padres y Estudiantes (LUPE), police overreacted to the demonstrations and “inhumanely pepper sprayed” around a dozen people, including two children, a retired teacher, a nurse and two legal observers.
Although Magnus claims that after viewing footage of the incident, he believes things were handled well, he has promised to investigate the matter further and release a complete review to the public.
Baker on the other hand believes the police is trying to shut up the anti-Trump protesters and deprive them of their right to free speech and voicing their opinions.
Here’s how people on Twitter are reacting to the incident.
FIRE THEM NOW TUSCON ARIZONA POLICE DEPARTMENT— HEY MO! (@MoLulkowski) February 28, 2017
THEY PUSH AND PEPPER SPRAY OLD WOMAN, THEY HAVE NO BUSINESS HAVING BADGES. SERVE AND PROTECT! https://t.co/I8YTYbYxfq
@Mikel_Jollett Trump's America where a police officer thinks it's okay to push an 80+ year old woman & proceed to pepper spray her & helper.— Lovina Box (@lovinabox) March 1, 2017
The fact that the Tuscon police chief PRAISED the officer is truly dishearten especially seeing the force and aggressiveness he used. https://t.co/ohdUENaIwV— Laytee Samida (@stainedcouture) February 28, 2017
@azcentral Tuscon Police Chief Chris Magnus needs to be CALLED ON THE CARPET along with the officer! APPALLING! UNACCEPTABLE!— TraderJones2011 (@TraderJones2011) February 28, 2017
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters