Henry Walsh didn’t have a video camera going last week when he was rousted by Minneapolis cops. That could make it difficult for his story to get the kind of traction other similar tales have received, but his father, veteran writer and music critic Jim Walsh, is writing about the incident involving his son on the Southwest Journal website.
He likes to walk in his S. Harriet Ave., neighborhood to clear his head, Walsh writes. But the police grabbed him because they suspected him of a burglary at 48th & Pleasant.
What you need to know about my lad is that he can handle himself. Last month when he was coming home from work on the bus, another passenger had a seizure in front of him, and Henry blew by the flummoxed bus driver, helped the guy off the bus, dashed up the street to the firehouse and got the paramedics to the scene, hopefully in time.
Tuesday night when the cops moved to search his backpack, Henry calmly told them that they’d handcuffed his arms behind his back over the backpack and that they were going to have to take off the cuffs in order to get to the backpack. The cops didn’t believe him and repeatedly attempted to yank it off my son until they finally uncuffed him and searched the empty backpack to their satisfaction.
To a backdrop of new and wholly warranted scrutiny of the Minneapolis Police Department, from Al Flowers’s police brutality case to Chief Hartnau’s signature moment thus far, of skipping a community meeting in the wake of Flowers and the Ferguson riots, to weekly stories about racial profiling and questionable police tactics to an increasingly encroaching and annoying police presence (“show us your papers,” as one oft-stopped pal puts it) on the traffic-heavy but altogether big-city safe and civilized streets of South Minneapolis, Henry — who is a legal adult and has no curfew and as an American citizen has every right to take a walk at any time of day or night that he chooses — picks up the story of one kid and one otherwise quiet night in his well-to-do lily-white neighborhood:
“They put me in the back of the car without even telling me anything. I had to ask them a few times before they said where we were going, to 48th & Pleasant. They weren’t treating me bad, but they were treating me like I did something. We got to the house that was supposedly robbed, I was sitting in the back of the car and there were like 10 cops and six squad cars around that block. Then I heard on the radio they had another guy on 45th and Pleasant and the cops got back in the car and let me out and gave me my stuff back without a ‘Sorry’ or anything; they didn’t even drive me home after that.”
Young Walsh is Colombian-American.