On Tuesday night a video of Madison, Wisconsin police beating and tasing a woman out side the East Towne mall went viral and sparked immediate protests.
Genele Laird became unruly – making threats and brandished a knife – after an argument with a Taco Bell employee over an allegedly stolen phone. At 5:15pm police were called to deal with the combative woman.
According to the Madison Police Department, when security confronted Laird, she refused to leave and made numerous threats to kill the security staff.
Police say Laird resisted their attempts to arrest her. During the struggle, police say Laird spit in the eyes of one officer.
Laird was taken to the jail on charges of disorderly conduct while armed, resisting police (causing injury), battery to a police officer and discharging bodily fluids.
Officers say they did recover the knife.
This led to a protest just hours later outside of the Public Safety Building, where protesters held a banner stating – “HANDS OFF BLACK WOMEN”
According to the young woman’s family, who have already met with police officials and asked for charges to be dropped in light of the aggressive police response, this is the first time Genele has had any kind of troubles with the law.
While accounts seem to agree that her behavior was outrageous and dangerous, this does not justify the actions you can see the officers took in the video. Rather than trying to subdue and restrain her, the officers seem to be trying to hurt and punish her. The knees to the rib, fisted blows, smashing her face to the pavement and a completely unnecessary use of the taser cannot be justified by her actions. These acts of aggression were clearly acts of violent spite by officers who took offense at having to do their jobs. No flag can cover the shame of the cowardice of cops who use difficult situations as a license to act on their own aggressive, bullyish tendencies.