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Video of Cop Assaulting Black ASU Professor Should Prompt More Than Outrage

Yet another video has emerged showing evidence of police abuse — and once again, it's the victim who faces serious charges.

by Natasha Lennard
Jun 30 2014, 4:10pm

Image via 3TV

How does jaywalking land a person with a class-five felony aggravated assault charge? The answer seems to be that you add "walking while black" to the equation.

Here is raw dash-cam footage of the assault, with off-camera audio until 2:14.

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Yet another shocking video of police abuse surfaced over the weekend. Dr. Ersula Ore, an English professor at Arizona State University (ASU), was stopped last month in the middle of the street by campus cop Stewart Ferrin. The officer was both verbally and physically abusive, but it is Ore who faces charges.

Ferrin stopped Ore for walking in a traffic thoroughfare. "I've been here for over three years and everybody walks this street… I never once saw a single solitary individual get pulled over by a cop for walking across a street on a campus," Ore told the officer before pointing out how the sidewalk was obstructed by construction.

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Ferrin then told her to put her hands behind her back and threatened to "slam" her on his car when she refused to show her ID, objecting expressly to the officer's disrespectful approach. Ferrin threw Ore violently to the ground, leaving her dress hiked up, her body exposed. He and another officer then dragged her to her feet, at which point she kicked Ferrin in the shin. Now she faces the felony assault charge, which she plans to fight.

The incident is just one in a stream of incidents of white cops harassing black individuals. It is also yet another example of a police narrative unraveling when video footage emerges. ASU has maintained that they have found "no evidence of inappropriate actions by the ASUPD officers involved." The dashboard camera video obtained by local station 3TV shows otherwise.

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The court of public opinion is rightly siding with Ore — but this has rarely been enough to hold a cop accountable. It is a vile trick, but one that upholds police impunity: an officer assaults a civilian and then charges the civilian with assault. Then, as in Ore's case, the arrestee has to devote energy and resources to fighting the assault charge and staying out of prison; holding the cop accountable becomes the least of their worries.

Unlike the majority of victims of police abuse, Ore, as a university professor, has a public platform from which to fight. Jack Kerouac had it right when he wrote, "The American police are involved in psychological warfare against those Americans who don't frighten them with imposing papers and threats" — and that is most arrestees. (The police force, he added, "can make crimes if the crimes don't exist to its satisfaction.")

But Ore has papers, Ore has video evidence, Ore has a lawyer and a case. It is an unmitigated travesty that she has to fight a felony assault charge at all. But while the ASU professor has a legal battle to wage, it seems incumbent upon us — the witnesses of her assault — to wage a battle against police brutality, impunity, and racial profiling.

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Follow Natasha Lennard on Twitter: @natashalennard