Pin It

On January 31st, 2014, Christ Lollie was sitting on a chair in the Skyway of the First National Bank Building waiting to pick his kids up from the New Horizons preschool. A private security guard saw him and called the police, claiming that Lollie was trespassing.

The officers that responded to the call were Lori Hayne, Michael Johnson, and Bruce Schmidt of the St. Paul police department. Although Lollie had already left the area in order to pick up his children, the police followed him and continued to demand that he identify himself. When he refused, they put hands on him, tased him and arrested him.

For simply sitting in a chair and waiting for his kids, he was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstruction of the legal process.

Trespassing

Reading the police account of the incident, they make it sound like they were stopping a burglary in progress:

Our officers were called by private security guards on a man who was trespassing in a private area. The guards reported that the man had on repeated occasions refused to leave a private “employees only” area in the First National Bank Building.

However, further investigation does not corroborate their depiction of the events. First of all, the private area which Mr. Lollie was sitting in was an open lounge. It was in located a publicly accessible skyway connecting two buildings. The area was not cordoned off, and it had no signage indicating that it was a private employee area.

picture posted to the First National Bank Facebook page actually invites people to relax in the lounge. The caption to the photo reads:

Need a quick five? Enjoy a seat on the skyway. – First National Bank Building, St. Paul Minnesota

This offer is regularly taken up by numerous St. Paul residents who sit in the skyway to avoid Minnesota’s frigid January temperatures. Considering the location, the lack of signage, and the an open invitation for people to enjoy the lounge, the trespassing accusation looks absurd.

Papers, Please

The next issue is one of identification. Did Chris Lollie have an obligation to identify himself to the police? The answer is no. Unless you are driving a vehicle or flying on a commercial flight, you don’t even have to carry ID in the United States.  Flex Your Rights states:

In a free society, citizens who are minding their own business are not obligated to “show their papers” to police. In fact, in the United States there’s no law requiring citizens to carry identification of any kind.

But what about simply telling police your name?

There are some instances in which you are required to reveal your identity.  One is if the police have a reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime. Another is if you are in a state with a Stop and Identify statute. However, watching the video, it is clear that no crime is in progress. And, there is currently no stop and identify statute in Minnesota. As for trespassing, when the video starts, Lollie has already left the skyway to pick up his kids.

Charges Dropped

St. Paul Police have since dropped the charges against Chris Lollie. However, due to their actions, they might be facing charges of their own soon. While St. Paul’s Mayor, Chris Coleman, calls for the Police-Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission to investigate the incident, Lollie prepares to file his case in federal court.

However, even if he wins, justice is not likely to be done. Lollie might get awarded some cash. But, that will be paid by the taxpayers of St. Paul, not the cops who profiled him. And the real loss – the loss of dignity that he suffered – will never be repaid. Lollie summed up what many people who watched the video felt when he said:

“I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m a working man. I take care of my kids. And I get this?” he says. “And you tase me. For what? I don’t have any weapons. You’re the ones with the weapons here.”

In the video, you can hear Lollie admit to having a small stash of Marijuana on his person, but he volunteered that information without being asked after the police were already detaining him and made no indication that was the reason for their harassment. Moral and ethical arguments aside – the penalties for personal possession in Minnesota are handled like speeding tickets:

First offenses involving small amounts of marijuana usually mean no prison time or criminal record, if the marijuana is a small amount for personal consumption. These offenses are treated in a similar way to a minor traffic violation.

Racial Profiling

I can’t stand when people play the race card. Using race as an excuse for failure, under achievement or to feul an imaginary persecution complex is one of my biggest pet peeves. I’ve never supported affirmative action and I don’t think race should play a factor in things like hiring or college admissions. My personal view is that rewards should be based on merit, and if your circumstances make accomplishment harder, then try harder.

That said, I have also had enough first hand experience to know that people – especially cops – will mess with you because of the color of your skin. Did that happen here? It certainly looks like it.

Here is the video:

One Response

  1. ERIC WISE

    Here is the result of elitist training that tells people they are “law enforcers” as opposed to “Peace Officers” just as “personnel” has been replaced with “human resources”. The constant conversion of people into “things” to be used much like toilet paper is the result of U.N. directives and illegal treaties for the better part of 60 years. This should be a “get back to God” moment for our civilization. But it won’t be as long as we have “one lever” voters who get the entirety of their current events knowledge from special reports that interrupt the game or soap opera. Remember there are only 3 people who actually live in America, ME, MYSELF, & I.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.