Chris Lollie is a local hip-hop musician in St. Paul, Minnesota, who was sitting in a downtown skyway in January when he was arrested by two police officers for, apparently, no reason at all. The two officers manhandled Lollie, and may have tased him, after he declined to give them his name because, he said, “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
A video of the arrest went public this week, just three weeks after an unarmed black teenager was shot dead by a police offcer in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking weeks of protest.
Lollie, 27, captured the altercation on cell phone video, which shows that indeed, the officers never actually accuse him of breaking any laws. When Lollie was arrested, he was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct, and obstructing the legal process. But as Lollie points out to the officers in the video, he was sitting in a public space.
His disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process charges stemmed from the altercation that was initiated by the police, who in their report noted that Lollie “would not give his name.”
All charges were soon dropped against Lollie, who in a posting on his YouTube page said that the police did not return his cell phone for 6 months. He posted the video of the incident on August 26.
Minnesota has no law requiring citizens to disclose their identities to police officers simply upon request.
Lollie said he ended his work shift at a downtown restaurant at 9 am and was waiting to pick up his children at New Horizon School, but the kids weren’t to be let out until 10 am, so he sat down and waited.
After about 10 minutes, a store clerk confronted Lollie and then called police.
As seen in the video recording, a female officer approaches Lollie and asks him to give his name. Remaining calm, Lollie replied, “Why do I have to let you know who I am? Who I am isn’t the problem.”
When the officer says, “The problem is –,” Lollie cuts her off.
“The problem is I’m black. That’s the problem,” he tells the officer. “It really is because I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Though Lollie had remained calm until this point, police quickly escalated the confrontation into violence when a second officer, identified at Bruce Schmidt, arrived, immediately threatening Lollie with jail.
When Lollie addresses the officer as “brother,” Schmidt snaps, “I’m not your brother.”
The video soon goes black — Lillie seemingly dropped the phone as the officers grab him — but Lollie can be heard screaming, and pleading with passers-by to help because his children have arrived and are watching.
Lollie at one point screams in pain, then accuses the officers of tasing him.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m a working man,” Lollie is heard to say as officers lead him away in handcuffs. “I take care of my kids. And I get this? And you tase me. For what? I don’t have any weapons. You’re the ones with the weapons here.”
Chris Lollie, a Chicago native who moved with his mother to St. Paul as a teenager, maintains a Reverb Nation page where selections of his music can be accessed, at this link.