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University of Maryland, Baltimore

Law Professor Calls for End to Police Detaining People on the Ground

The video of Black woman and four crying young girls face down and handcuffed in a Colorado parking lot was the last straw for University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Professor Larry S. Gibson.  A recognized civil rights activist, historian, and political consultant, Gibson is calling for an end to the dehumanizing practice of police detaining people on the ground. 

According to Gibson, the practice not only invokes images of slavery, it can also cause emotional trauma, medical complications, and in the case of John Elliott Neville, a Black man from North Carolina – death.   

Professor Gibson is proposing enactment of legislation that will limit the power of police to detain people in such a manner. 

Gibson Quotes:  

  • Police officers frequently force people, especially Black men, women and children, to lay prone face down on the ground with their hands cuffed behind their backs. The police do this without knowing, and apparently without caring, whether people have physical or medical conditions that make complying painful or harmful.” Baltimore SUN op-ed 8/12/20 
  • Proposed legislation language: A police officer may require a person to lay prone on the ground only when it is objectively reasonable, necessary and proportional to obtain compliance with lawful commands or resolve a conflict. The police officer must consider any knowledge or lack of knowledge about the person’s medical or physical conditions. Baltimore SUN op-ed 8/12/20 
  • There is no reason to expect that most police officers or their unions will support this reform. If they will not even support banning life-threatening chokeholds, it is hopeless to expect police to support this regulation of their control over people’s bodies. Therefore, affirmative legislation, similar to what I propose, will have to be enacted over police objections. Baltimore SUN op-ed 8/12/20 

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