When Officer Rod Webber quickly approached the car that Hamza Jeylani was sitting in, the 17-year-old hit record on his cell phone.1 Moments earlier, Jeylani and three friends were pulled over by the officer after making a U-turn in a church parking lot in South Minneapolis after playing basketball at the local YMCA.2 After Jeylani and two friends were ordered out of the car, Webber threatened Jeylani as he handcuffed him.3
“Plain and simple, if you fuck with me,” says Webber on the video, “I’m going to break your legs before you get the chance to run.”4 “Can you tell me why I’m being arrested?” asks Jeylani.5 “Because I feel like arresting you,” replies Webber.6
According to police, the rationale for the March 18, 2015, stop and detention was suspicion that the four young Black teenagers had stolen the car.7 But Jeylani rejects this: “The driver had license and insurance, and that was his car.” Complicating matters more, police said the stolen car they were after was a blue Honda Civic. The teenagers, however, were driving a blue Toyota Camry.8 But Jeylani believes he knows the real reason for his stop. He and his friends, all four of whom are of Somali descent, were driving while Black. “I felt like that was a racial profile,” he says.9
The feeling that the Minneapolis Police Department treats people of color, particularly Black and Native American residents, differently than white Minneapolitans isn’t confined to Jeylani and his friends. It’s pervasive, and now because of new in-depth documentation we can see how broad and systematic it is. In late 2014, the ACLU obtained arrest data from the Minneapolis Police Department for low-level offenses that occurred from January 1, 2012, to September 30, 2014. The data includes information about 96,975 arrests.