Moral Low Ground

Society

Black Rochester Teens Arrested While Waiting for School Bus

Three black high school basketball players arrested for disorderly conduct while waiting for a bus in Rochester, New York are protesting what they are calling their unfair detention.

Rochester Homepage reports 17-year-old Wan’Tauhjs Weathers, 16-year-old Deaquon Carelock and Raliek Redd, also 16, were arrested last Wednesday morning on disorderly conduct charges while waiting for a school bus on Main Street in downtown Rochester. The star athletes at Edison Tech High School were on their way to play crosstown rivals Aquinas in a scrimmage when Rochester police officers approached their group, which numbered 16 players, and asked them to move.

According to a Rochester Police Department statement, officers asked the teens to move several times but they did not comply. Police accused the boys of blocking “pedestrian traffic while standing on a public sidewalk… preventing free passage of citizens walking by and attempting to enter and exit a store.”

Downtown businesses have been complaining about loitering youths who sometimes allegedly engage in fights. But the arrested boys and their coach say they did nothing wrong at all; they were just waiting for their bus.

“You’re just downtown minding your own business and next thing you know, anything can happen,” Carelock told WHEC.

“We tried to tell them that we were waiting for the bus,” added Weathers. “[The officer] didn’t care. He arrested us anyway.”

“I feel it’s unfair,” Weathers told Rochester Homepage. “Like, we weren’t doing nothing. We’re just regular kids trying to get to our game. Like we not doing nothing wrong, we’re not harassing nobody. We’re not causing no trouble.”

Edison Tech coach Jacob Scott called the boys’ ordeal a “catastrophe.”

“These young men were doing nothing wrong,” Scott told WHEC. “They did what they were supposed to do and yet they still get arrested.”

Scott told the Huffington Post that officers threatened to arrest him as well when he attempted to diffuse the situation.

“[The officer said] if you don’t disperse, you’re going to get booked as well,” Scott claimed. “I said, ‘Sir, I’m the adult. I’m their varsity basketball coach. How can you book me? What am I doing wrong? Matter of fact, what are these guys doing wrong?'”

Redd’s mother, Crystal Chapman, told Rochester Homepage she plans on fighting the charges against her son until they are dismissed.

“I’m really upset and I don’t plan to let it go,” said Chapman.

Weathers’ mother is also furious.

“I think [the officers] see a group of young black men and kind of stereotyped them for loitering, looking for trouble,” Tynicia Weathers told Rochester Homepage.

The parents’ concerns were echoed by Rochester City School Board member Mary Adams.

“I’m very concerned about a pattern of young people being abused by police authority,” Adams told WHEC. “To me, this seems like a really clear case, part of a pattern.”

Rochester School Superintendent Bolgen Vargas told Rochester Homepage he’s looking into the incident.

The three teens are free on bail pending a December 11 court date.

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