Human Rights

Police Beat Up College Student for Riding Bicycle on Sidewalk (Video)

A new video shows the 20-year-old student screaming in pain after cops attacked him.

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Riding a bicycle on a sidewalk — that’s the crime that left 20-year-old City College student D’Paris Williams battered after he was attacked by the San Francisco police.

Last Friday, Williams was riding his bicycle down the sidewalk on the street where he lived. He was coming back from the Make a Wish Foundation’s Bat Kid festivities when two plainsclothes officers approached him. Uptown Almanac, a blog about San Francisco culture, described the scene:

The officers said something to DJ about riding his bicycle on the sidewalk as he was pulling up to his home in the complex. It is unclear whether the officers identified themselves or not, but did proceed to get out of their car, grab DJ from behind as he was entering the home and beat him for no apparent reason. A police search uncovered a cupcake and juice that DJ had just purchased from the corner store. … He was immediately taken to S.F. General Hospital for treatment, and then to the 850 Bryant police station. … Furthermore, three residents came to DJ's aid when they saw officers beating him up, only to find themselves also under attack by officers. By this time, uniformed backup had arrived on the scene. Including DJ, a total of four individuals were beaten and arrested by officers.

Williams’ family said that Williams could not hear the officers because he was listening to music through his headphones. Williams sister, who was carrying a newborn, witnessed the scene. She was also pushed by officers when she approached the door where her brother was assaulted. After officers shoved Williams’ head in his door, they dragged him to continue the beating.

Williams neighbors poured into the street, and initially, this video was released of the scene. But a new video emerged on Tuesday showing Williams screaming in pain after the cops’ attack (you can hear the screams starting at 0:50):

Uptown Almanac reported that one of the people jailed with Williams said he “looks like he was in a bad car accident.”

The SFPD claimed that after violating a “California vehicle code infraction,” Williams fled from and resisted officers. Then, “reasonable force was used by the officers to effect the arrest.” According to Uptown Almanac,they have denied requests to release the SF Housing Authority’s surveillance footage. It also reports the SFPD brought five charges against Williams, including assault, resistance, and riding his bike on the sidewalk, and set his bail at $143,000.

According to KTVU, San Francisco Prosecutor's office discharged the case against Williams pending further investigation.

On Tuesday, about 200 people rallied in San Francisco to condemn this act of police brutality. According to the SF Chronicle,Williams’ sister Christina spoke through a megaphone at the rally asserting that police attacked Williams because he is black and lives in what police consider a “ghetto community.” She said, “We are not a ghetto community. … We are just families trying to raise our children."

Alyssa Figueroa is an associate editor at AlterNet. 

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