Illustration for article titled Memphis NAACP Wants Expedited Inquiry Into Black Woman’s Arrest
Screenshot: Fox 13 (YouTube)

Last month, Kesha Gray was arrested in Cordova, Tenn. after police officers stopped her for questioning about a reported domestic violence incident and appearing to be too distraught to talk to them. Video footage of her arrest soon spread across social media. Now, the Memphis branch of the NAACP is calling for an expedited inquiry into her arrest.

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According to Fox 13, Van Turner, president of the NAACP in Memphis, wrote a letter to Sheriff Floyd Bonner regarding the incident.

“It appears that Ms. Gray was the victim of a crime and unfortunately it appears that she was victimized again for not participating in an investigating officer’s investigation,” Turner wrote.

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There are conflicting accounts on what prompted the cops to confront Gray in the first place.

An affidavit states that Gray’s fiancé called deputies to report a domestic violence incident between the two of them, Fox 13 reported, but it’s what isn’t in the affidavit that raises eyebrows.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said officers were responding to witness accounts that a woman was being beaten up in what looked like a kidnapping in progress. The office’s incident report said the woman, who was later identified as Gray, was put in a headlock by a man who was “dragging the woman towards the vehicle, punching her and choking her.”

What is clear, though, is the video. Gray can be seen pulling away from one officer in his attempt to question her. She is visibly shaken up and can be seen walking into the street away from the officer as he follows. Later, three officers can be seen kneeling down on top of her as she’s face down on the ground, handcuffed and screaming for them to “get off of me!”

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The footage is so alarming even Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer said it was unnecessary and that any charges against Gray should be dropped.

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“It took me back to the first time I saw Sandra Bland,” Sawyer said in an interview with Fox13. “I think the force and language used and the lack of care was extreme.”

Retired county deputy and Fox13 law enforcement analyst Mike Collins said what law enforcement officials almost always say in situations like this: everything the cops did was fine.

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“This is one of the most serious calls a police officer can get in the line of duty,” Collins said. “The officer did what was necessary to deescalate the situation.”

If it was the case that Gray had been beaten and nearly kidnapped just before the police arrived, it stands to reason that she would have been in such a frantic state that dealing with the cops wasn’t on her to-do-list. Either way, we’re left with questions as to how necessary it was to aggressively arrest an unarmed woman who hadn’t been violent with officers but was only unwilling to talk.

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Gray was charged with multiple misdemeanors including resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and obstructing a highway. She is currently out of jail on bond.

Sheriff Bonner has promised a probe into the arrest.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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