You can’t reform this!
Every time police seem to take one step forward towards actually protecting and serving, the boys in blue can’t wait to take several steps back and drag Black citizens with them. Knox News reports a meeting held by the city of Knoxville, TN to improve relations between the community and local law enforcement erupted in violence when Knox County deputies literally dragged activist David Hayes away in handcuffs on Friday. The 29-year-old attended to bring attention to Robert Nathan Bailey dying in police custody this week after a traffic stop for a broken tail light, but Hayes ended up becoming a victim of police brutality himself.
Four deputies swarmed Hayes and yelled that he was resisting arrest while he simply begged to know why he was being arrested in the first place. “This is inhumane! Why are you treating me like this?” Hayes asked as the deputies tightened the cuffs.
Community activist Tyler Givens told Knox news the arrest was sudden and unexpected after the peaceful public meeting concluded. “I was right there outside of the meeting room and saw David talking to a deputy,” Givens said about witnessing the incident. “The deputy then put his hand on him. I saw no struggle. Next thing you know he was on the ground and they were arresting him.”
“This is what y’all do when we try to talk about how police could be better?” Hayes asked while the deputies continued to manhandle him. It’s hard to believe that just before that incident, Hayes was peacefully meeting with Knoxville community members and city leaders to discuss policing and the search for a new chief of police.
According to court records, the former city council candidate was charged with obstructing a highway or passageway, inciting to riot, and assaulting a first responder. When he was released later that night, Hayes explained that despite the charges, he was the only one assaulted and abused while he was in custody.
Hayes says that a deputy escalated from leaning and pushing to hitting and punching him while he was cuffed in a back room. “When I was talking, he hit my head and my throat so I coughed. He said I spit in his face and then punched me two or three times in the face, point-blank.”
Allegations of excessive force and assault are nothing new for officer Ronald Chaperon. In 2014, he was suspended for a fellow deputy to choke a University of Tennessee at Knoxville student while he and another officer adjusted the handcuffs. Chaperon claimed he was informed that there was a warrant for Hayes’ arrest, but no details about a warrant have surfaced.
Hayes wrote in a statement on Facebook that he is adding his own name to the long list of victims demanding justice and accountability from the Knoxville Police Department and Knox County Sherriff’s Office.
“The cops succeeded in beating on me pretty badly when we got behind close doors, but they failed to deter me from our mission to create a city/county that centers justice and care for its residents instead of brutality. These charges set against me set a dangerous precedent for all advocates, activists, and organizers. More info to come, but I’m looking forward to beating these charges just like the past ones.