By Gene Clancy /Rochester, N.Y.
Political activist Emily Good was awakened by police lights flashing in front of her home in an oppressed community on May 12. Concerned about previous cases of Rochester police profiling, she went outside and began videotaping.
Ryan Acuff, Good’s friend and fellow activist, described the scene:
“We both went outside to see what the commotion was about, and we found two police cars blocking the street as they were performing a traffic stop. Later on a third police car pulled up, making a total of four officers on the scene. The person pulled over was a young Black male. It was unclear why the man was originally pulled over, but one of the officers interrogated the man and accused him of possessing drugs.
“Not satisfied with the man’s answers, the police took the man out of his car, handcuffed and put him in the back of a police car. After the man was detained, the police officers searched his car and found no drugs. The officers then released the man and said he was free to go.” (rochester.indymedia.org)
When one of the officers spotted Good and her camera, he demanded that she go back into her house. Good refused, stating that she had a right to be in her own front yard. So the police arrested her for obstructing governmental administration. Acuff picked up the iPod and continued recording the arrest.
In June, Good released the video of her arrest on YouTube and the flagrant actions of the arresting officer caused the clip to go viral. (See entire video on youtube.com, “Rochester police arrest woman”) Good and her attorney were interviewed live on CNN, and the video was played on NBC Nightly News and other corporate outlets.
On June 23 members of the community were attending a meeting at the Flying Squirrel Community Center to discuss Good’s case when four police cars pulled up. Using a ruler, police began issuing parking citations for cars parked too close to or too far from the curb.
On June 27 the District Attorney dismissed the charges against Good, citing a “lack of evidence that any crime had been committed.” (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, June 28)
While the criminal case against her is over, Good says she is planning to bring a civil lawsuit against the Rochester Police Department and Officer Mario Masic, who arrested her. (WHEC TV news, June 28)
Good said the dismissal of the charges “felt really good,” but she was still concerned that “the officer who ordered me inside my house has not been held accountable for anything.” She said she is not hopeful that the promised RPD’s internal review will yield results. (Matt Sledge, June 28)
Good plans to seek monetary damages in her lawsuit. She said, “I’m not out for money, but this is definitely more than an inconvenience for my life. And it’s also a language that is powerful for people who operate in this world that seems to revolve around money, so it’s something that would make a statement.”
Good and Acuff are both activists in the Rochester area who have participated in demonstrations against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and against mayoral control of the public school system. Good was one of several people recently arrested while trying to prevent the foreclosure and eviction of a destitute Rochester resident. They and others have called for a civilian review board to monitor the actions of the police. They deserve the solidarity and support of progressives everywhere.