Cult of Compliance – Mentally Disabled Man Sues after Police Beating

Here’s another story about police violence and disability. Here’s another story about the cult of compliance.

In Dearborn Michigan, an Arab man was riding home on his bike. He stopped, was approached by police, and failed to comply with a request for ID. According to a complaint in a lawsuit, when he didn’t present ID, officers then “manhandled” him and kicked him while on the ground, before arresting him.

Here are the two sides to the story, according to the piece in the local paper:

Attorney Cyril Hall, whose law office is representing Beydoun, said Beydoun was leaving his job as a dishwasher at Mango Cafe, 14927 West Warren Ave., on his bicycle when he stopped to fix its chain. He was then stopped by a Dearborn police officer, who then called another officer for backup.
“There was no reasonable suspicion that he was engaged in criminal activity,” Hall said at the press conference in Dearborn.
That was when Beydoun, who speaks English as a second language, was asked to present identification by the officers and, when he did not immediately present it, was “manhandled” by an officer and kicked multiple times on the ground by another officer, according to CAIR-MI.

The Police comment is:

Dearborn police said in a statement that Beydoun was in a neighborhood that has experienced auto thefts and break-ins and it is common for criminals to use a bike when traveling to an area to steal cars. Police said its review of the incident showed officers followed proper procedures. The statement said the officers “acted and reported the incident appropriately and according to approved department protocols.”

The video showed the officers’ response to Beydoun after he resisted a pat down for weapons, the statement said. It also said that the reason Beydoun was stopped by police is not in the video.

I have to tell you that “Arab man harassed by police” is not “news.” News, as my friend Bruce Schneier says, are things that hardly ever happen. Stuff that happens all the time isn’t news.

This story got press attention because Ali Beydoun has a mental disability (unspecified by the reporting). With that in mind, here’s some more context:

The police statement reads – ““Mr. Beydoun was not dressed properly for the 20 degree weather that December morning. Despite riding his bicycle in the street, his bike did not have a light and he disregarded several stop signs.” The lawyer says: “Beydoun was dressed no differently than the officers as seen in the video.”

Let’s assume this is true, though, that Beydoun’s clothing wasn’t sufficiently warm and that he didn’t stop for stop signs. The police see this as abnormal and non-compliant. Through the lens of disability, though, the behaviors have a very different cast.

You can watch some video here, starting just 45 seconds or so in. It’s disturbing.

In the wake of Ethan Saylor’s death, some advocates suggested developing a universal “I’m disabled” hand-signal or even a t-shirt so that police will know not to beat people who are disabled for being non-compliant.

But I have a better idea.

Don’t beat people for being non-compliant.

2 Replies to “Cult of Compliance – Mentally Disabled Man Sues after Police Beating”

  1. DavidG says:

    As you say, disturbing. You would sort of hope that when someone is curling in on themselves, absolutely not lashing out, and yelling 'No,' and 'Mom' in a clearly distressed fashion, that at least one of the three cops would have the sense to think 'can we de-escalate this', or 'is this someone vulnerable'.

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