The small town of Yellow Springs, Ohio is known as a haven for artists and activists. The legendary comedian Dave Chappelle calls the village home, as does Antioch College and University, the institution from which Martin Luther King, Jr’s wife Coretta graduated.
One such activist who has been involved in the protests demanding justice for John Crawford is Minerva Barker.
Barker is a person with disabilities, but in spite of those disabilities, she was assaulted by overzealous and violent members of the Yellow Springs Police Department. She describes the incident as follows:
Yellow Springs police physically manhandled me to prevent me from recording their actions. They came to my house, ran our plates, refused to tell my home health aide why they were running plates. Only told me they were there to “meet some people” right after the landlord taped a notice to my door and left. When I told them it felt really inappropriate for them to run my plates if they were just meeting someone, Officer Penrod approached in the street towards me and said she was the one who ordered the plates to be run.
But the encounter didn’t end there. Minerva continues, recounting that the incident was initiated by Penrod “with what I felt to be a defensive hostile attitude as she approached.”
“My aide brought me my camera,” Barker continues. “I began to record.”
But that’s when she explains that, “Officer Penrod came at me and told me I wasn’t going to record them.”
This, of course, is completely illegal. Officers cannot order you to stop recording them in public space. Penrod had no force of the law behind her commands, they were private orders, made by someone hiding behind the assumed authority of a badge, rather than the law itself.
Minerva continues, explaining that “She grabbed my camera and twisted my wrists to force me to let go, as I repeated that what she was doing was illegal, while she told me I was going to go to jail. Being a person with disabilities, I was unable to hold onto the camera. She took it from me. The other two officers did not stop her.”
That’s when Minerva dialed 911.
When they tried to distract me I told them I wanted the encounter recorded as I cannot now do since Officer Penrod took my camera. I talked to 911. I had two people there (my aide and someone else) and she told the other person to take the camera inside an away from me or I was going to jail. After I dialed 911 and told them what was happening, I went inside to get another recording device and told the police that was what I was going to do. When I came out the officers were leaving. I put the camera card in my computer and it appears that six items were deleted. One item was not and that was the beginning of her grabbing my camera. I was told later that the landlord was the one who called the police there. However, the landlord put my notice to vacate on the door and left before police arrived.
Watch the short video of the incident below. It is clear that Officer Penrod took physical control of the phone, even when not within her legal rights to do so. This makes the rest of the report increasingly believable, and explains why the rest of the incident was not captured on the video file.
But now, according to the village manager of Yellow Springs, Sgt. Naomi Penrod will face three misdemeanor charges. These include interfering with civil rights, assault and disorderly conduct.
Yellow Springs Village Manager Patti Bates said, “There will be no further comment from the Village at this time,” in a written statement.
Penrod is currently on administrative leave with pay until the criminal case against her has been prosecuted and finalized.
“Now that an independent investigation and special prosecutor have determined the filing of criminal charges is appropriate, we must wait for the resolution of the criminal process and the Village has a legal obligation to ensure the administrative due process rights of its employee are respected,” Bates explained. “The Village also has a duty to balance the public’s and the officer’s welfare.”