By Dylan Deprey
Quelle Robinson’s Facebook post began with the title, “04/08/2018 a day I’ll never forget.”
Below the post was a 42 minute Facebook live video shot from the backseat of a vehicle as it was pulled over by Milwaukee Police near N. 29th St. and W. Lisbon Ave. The driver was Adea Dunn, Milwaukee Youth Council Vice President and Robinson’s sister.
As red and blue lights flashed through the rear window, they captured the moment their friend, Jalen Copeland, was ripped out of the passenger seat by police.
“No Jalen, No!!” screamed Payge Ivory, their eight-year-old sister, who sat next to Robinson in the rear.
Three cops were shown wrestling Copeland to the ground.
“Chill Jalen, just relax,” shouted Dunn and the others as police handcuffed him.
Robinson left the car to scope out the situation and was immediately told to return to the vehicle.
As she got back into the car, an officer was shown rummaging through the passenger side. He said there was a suspicion that Copeland was reaching for something before he was pulled out.
Robinson leaned over towards the passenger seat to film the officer.
“Sit down, do you want to be next?” bellowed the officer.
Dunn shouted to Copeland asking for people to call, but nobody would answer.
The officer detaining Copeland on the curb stated he was being arrested for obstructing.
After hitting the twominute mark of the video, the tension and fear can be heard through Dunn’s voice as she eventually called her mother, Danielle Williams, and walked her through the traumatic situation.
As Robinson worked to calm down her younger sister shaking with fear in the backseat, Dunn explained to her mother over the phone how the group was originally pulled over for not having their headlights on and were getting a citation.
During the video, the girls explained that Copeland was asked to get out of the vehicle. He asked to put his hands on the dashboard instead because he had not done anything wrong. Police said he was reaching for a weapon and the situation escalated.
“I’m scared for my life right now, and Jalen’s,” Dunn said to her mother off camera while more officers arrived behind their vehicle.
Copeland was put into the back of squad car, and the girls were eventually asked out of the vehicle and patted down.
Towards the end of the video a Milwaukee Police Sergeant had come to get information from the girls for an internal investigation into the incident.
The Milwaukee Courier reached out to the Milwaukee Police Department in regards to the video and the investigation.
“MPD is aware of this video and it is currently being reviewed by the Internal Affairs Division,” MPD stated in an e-mail.
The trauma goes viral
Two days after the incident, the video had nearly 300,000 views. From friends and peers to local advocates, like Vaun Mayes, and Hollywood actors like D. L. Hughley, their run-in with law enforcement spread across social media.
All three young adults in the vehicle were college bound and active in their community, which included educating their peers on their Constitutional rights and how to safely interact with police in their community.
“After all of the work we have done in our community, I felt like this was a slap in the face,” Dunn said.
Although they felt embarrassed and shook over the incident, more people reached out, both positively and negatively.
Robinson said they saw their experience as an opportunity for teens and youth to voice their feedback to law enforcement.
They decided to express their feelings about the incident during a press conference at Urban Underground (4850 W. Fond du Lac Ave.) on April 17.
The three were accompanied by their mother and Makasa Tucker, UBLAC founder. Copeland was not present. In a statement to press, he said that he was still processing the events that occurred that night, but would have an active voice in the future.
“Those officers treated me like a low-life, a criminal and a statistic that had no aspirations to be great,” Dunn said on Copeland’s behalf. “Just because I may have looked like the average black male in Milwaukee does not mean I’m troublesome, and that goes for everyone.”
Elected officials, activists and classmates showed their support at the press conference.
Representative David Bowen said he was shocked when he saw the video.
“I’m thankful that they’re not hashtags right now,” Bowen said. “It’s just heartbreaking, they were trying to do right in our community but were treated like hardened criminals.”
Most recently, Rep. Bowen and 65 of his fellow members from the National Black Caucus of the Young Elected Officials Network made a to call for immediate action to end police violence and state-supported brutality against black people in America.
They could have complied?
While the comment section on any police involved issue can be a minefield, one comment that frequently popped up was, “Well if they would have complied to what police said this would not have happened.”
Most of those people posting were not Black nor were they from the innercity of Milwaukee.
Nasheka Bryant, Freedom Fighter founder, said that this was the typical response from those that do not know the community relations with police.
“As a member doing work in the community and live in the community, you can fully assess that these were just children and they were no threat whatsoever, and you could see by the young man’s body language that he was aggravated because of the treatment he was receiving,” Bryant said. “It’s hard to say ‘You should have complied,’ when the whole conversation and interaction was just disrespectful and wrong.”
Bryant said this struck home for her because her son is going through driver’s education and it could have easily been him in the video.
“It was heartbreaking, really heartbreaking and it obviously didn’t look like they deserved it,” Bryant said. “There’s going to be a lot of psychological trauma those kids are going to go through.”
Following the Aftermath, Action is imminent
Danielle Williams said when she had received the call from her scared daughters she was terrified that at any moment she would hear, “Shots fired!”
“As a mother, you are there to protect your children and to teach them to do everything right, and to see that diminished in those few moments, I’m just really hurt and concerned,” Williams said. “It’s sad that we had to come out and say this happened.”
Though Milwaukee Police have not reached out to the family or made a statement as of yet, Robinson and Dunn were firm that there would be a face-toface with police to air their grievances and provide feedback.
Tucker is the Director of the African American Roundtables. These events have been hosted through every police district and are meant to give the community a chance to speak to police.
Tucker said a youth collaborative community session was in the works because teens needed their voices heard in the law enforcement community.
“Plans are in the works,” Tucker said. “I’m unfortunate it had to happen like this in order for it to happen, but it’s the perfect time.”