A Black security guard who was working for a news crew during last year’s George Floyd protest in Minneapolis has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was unlawfully arrested while his white colleagues were left alone.
According to NBC News, Michael Cooper, a 64-year-old retired Illinois State Police trooper, filed the lawsuit against two Minnesota State Patrol troopers, identified as Patrick Kelly and Jane Doe. Last May, Cooper was working as a security officer for CNN’s news team when the media members “encountered a barrage of tear gas” and one person was hit by a rubber bullet.
The lawsuit said that Cooper suggested that the media team “calmly” approach the officers, show them their press credentials and ask how to safely exit the area. He and a producer held their credentials up in the air. However, the officers disregarded him and told him to kneel, lay down and “place his arms straight out from his body with his palms facing straight up,” the suit said.
Kelly and other troopers reportedly knocked Cooper’s credentials out of his hand and handcuffed him. He never resisted and continuously told the cops that he was a member of the press. After being handcuffed for over an hour, he was booked into the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.
Doe said Cooper was in violation of the curfew, although the press was excluded from the rule. He was detained at the jail for 20 hours before he was freed and was never formally charged.
“Mr. Cooper was humiliated undergoing this process as a 64-year-old man, who had dedicated over two-thirds of his life to serving the public in law enforcement,” the suit said. “He has now been left to contemplate that the system he has dedicated his life to is capable of unlawfully arresting and causing resulting harm to wholly innocent men and women.”
The lawsuit also points out that Cooper, the only Black member of the CNN crew, was the only person who was arrested. None of the white journalists were detained, even though they were in the same area he was in. “The selective arresting of Black media members was not coincidental. It was intentional and racially motivated,” the lawsuit said.
Cooper is seeking $500,000.