Protest in Pennsylvania after cop uses knee to restrain man

Protest in Pennsylvania after cop uses knee to restrain man

Monday, July 13, 2020

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ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania (AP)— Activists today demanded police accountability after video emerged over the weekend of an officer placing his knee on a man's head and neck area outside a Pennsylvania hospital.

Allentown police appeared to violate their own policy against neck restraints when an officer used his knee to bear down on the man's head, the activists said, while the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania called it an illegal use of force.

Police launched an internal probe and promised to release additional video of Saturday's incident.

"Pending the outcome of this investigation, if they are not on the right side of justice, then those officers need to be terminated," said Justan Parker, founder of Black Lives Matter to Lehigh Valley.

The videotaped incident occurred nearly seven weeks after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes. Floyd's death sparked global protests over police brutality and racial injustice.

"I can't believe this is really happening now, and here," Parker said.

Protesters gathered in downtown Allentown on Monday for a protest dubbed "Demands Will Be Met," with plans to march to Allentown City Hall and police department headquarters.

The local Black Lives Matter group issued a list of demands, including the release of any police bodycam video of the incident, the suspension of the officers involved, the name and condition of the man, the establishment of a regional criminal justice review board and a reallocation of police funding.

The bystander video, shot from a passing vehicle and posted on social media, shows Allentown officers restraining the man on the ground outside the emergency room of the Sacred Heart Campus of St Luke's Hospital. An officer had his elbow on the man's neck before switching to a knee to hold him down while other officers restrained his arms.

The man does not appear to be resisting during the video.

Though Allentown police wear body cameras, Lake declined to say Monday whether police video of the incident exists.

A St Luke's spokesperson said the hospital has turned its own video over to police.

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