At a meeting of the Edina City Council, Minnesota, on Tuesday, dozens of citizens spent three hours venting their concerns about what they had seen in a video that circulated on social media. The video was about the controversial arrest of a black pedestrian that was recorded by a bystander.
The mayor and the City Council have subsequently publicly apologized after hearing the emotional testimonies from the audience about race relations in the city.
In the video, it showed Larnie B. Thomas’ was being held back by his jacket by a plainclothes police officer who refused Thomas’ demands that he be released. The same officer told Thomas that he was walking in the middle of the street.
Thomas responded that he was merely avoiding sidewalk construction. Throughout the altercation, Thomas’ frustration was obvious. Janet Rowle, the bystander who recorded the video, told the officer at one point that Thomas was apparently “scared” and that “people die in these situations, it’s scary.”
A second officer arrived and arrested Thomas. He was charged with disturbing the peace but the complaint was eventually dropped.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota NAACP told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that they are still awaiting a formal written apology following the city’s response that it is investigating the arrest and the verbal regrets officials expressed at Tuesday’s meeting.
Councilmember Bob Stewart said, “I think we can do better.” He said he would contact Thomas to try to make sure an incident like this didn’t happen again.
“For Mr. Larnie Thomas, I’m going to meet him face-to-face,” Edina Mayor James Hovland said at Tuesday’s hearing. “It’s one thing for me to sit up here and apologize; it’s another to meet him face-to-face.”
As for the charges against Thomas being dropped, the Minnesota NAACP wrote on its Facebook page that “this is not justice, but it is a step in the right direction.”