Have you heard of Glen Grays, a black mailman who was arrested on the job by officers in Brooklyn, NY? Maybe not, but his story is one we should talk about.
Grays, age 27, was working his USPS shift the afternoon of St. Patrick's Day, March 17, when a black car made a sharp turn on the street where he was getting out of his mail truck. He yelled at the driver as he ducked back into his truck to avoid getting hit by the car. That's when the car reversed and the driver told Grays he had the right of way because he was law enforcement. Three other plainclothes officers sat in the car. By the time Grays was delivering mail, the officers were walking up to arrest him.
This is Grays's account of the incident, according to the New York Times; the police department's only comment was that the matter was under internal review. Mayor Bill de Blasio's press secretary told the paper that the mayor would be in touch with the police commissioner about it.
In a YouTube video captured by witnesses and uploaded by the office of the Brooklyn borough president Eric L. Adams, you can see Grays's arrest. (Warning: the video contains graphic language.) Grays is wearing his uniform as he gets handcuffed and frisked; officers tell him to stop resisting arrest, although it doesn't appear that he is. Grays told the Times that after his arrest, the police officer who was driving got into an accident because he turned around to yell at him; Grays hurt his shoulder as a result.
On March 22, Adams held a press conference saying he was appalled over the civil rights violations against a federal employee and calling for the NYPD to investigate. Grays was ultimately issued a disorderly conduct summons and will need to appear in court. Despite the incident, Grays says he doesn't hate cops — in fact, he's engaged to one he met on his mail route.
After hearing his story, people are responding on Twitter, most of them outraged.
A lot of us would have done what Glen Grays did when an unmarked NYPD vehicle nearly clipped his mail truck. https://t.co/KnHAzmJG14— Jamil Smith جميل كريم (@JamilSmith) March 25, 2016
The NYPD officers who arrested #GlenGrays believe police can do anything they like & arrest anybody who gets in their way. It's disgusting.— Benjamin M. (@BenjaminM1019) March 25, 2016
I don't favor easily ending people's livelihoods, but the cops who arrested #GlenGrays have lost credibility as guardians of New Yorkers.— Benjamin M. (@BenjaminM1019) March 25, 2016
Don't tell me there isn't a problem in this country. Glen Grays needs to file a complaint with the United States... https://t.co/PIMjZ2GbVj— Fight On Wisconsin (@fightonwi) March 25, 2016
— Martin Fogelman III (@mfogelmaniii) March 25, 2016
While it remains to be seen if the officers will be held responsible for violating civil rights, you can't help but wonder: would this have happened if Grays was white?