Two Black Comedians Sue Police Over Search at Atlanta Airport
By Mike McQueary
10 August 2014
A lawsuit filed by the Atlanta Black Comedians collective is seeking records and damages from Atlanta police regarding a June 9 search conducted by airport police at the Terminal B TSA checkpoint and the arrests made by the officers.
According to the suit, four Black men were arrested for “breaching the peace, disorderly conduct, and interfering with the business of the airport and its passengers.” The plaintiffs are Larry Brown, Robert C. Young, John H. Walker and Toney W. Wilkerson.
The allegations of police misconduct are based in large part on an interview conducted with the plaintiffs in an article “Pitchfork: A Black Comedian’s Search for Comfort and Hope” written by the Atlanta Black Comedians collective. In the article, the plaintiffs explain that they began to protest the police presence at the airport when they were asked if they could bring their own food and water to support their protest. The question led to a confrontation with officers for having the audacity to attempt to organize a non-violent protest to a police presence at the airport. The plaintiffs claim that a fight ensued and the officers pushed the plaintiffs and arrested them. The article states “After spending the night in jail on charges of resisting arrest, the police released the plaintiffs without questioning.”
On July 16, 2014, the plaintiffs filed suit against the Atlanta police department and the Atlanta Airport Authority alleging that police violated their First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The plaintiffs also allege that the police failed to follow proper procedure during the search and arrests. As a result, they claim that they suffered humiliation and embarrassment, lost work and income, were denied credit and had to take time off work to seek medical attention, lost their personal property, and have their belongings stolen.
In his response, Atlanta police spokesman John McQueary stated that the police were acting under the direction of the Atlanta Airport Authority. The plaintiffs claim that the police search was illegal and unreasonable, and that under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment, arrest is a criminal act. The plaintiffs maintain that there is no evidence that the arrests were based upon probable cause. In