Police Exhibit ‘Excessive Use Of Force’ In Viral Arrest Of Two AUC Students

Torrence Banks, Co-Managing Editor

Many Atlanta residents were left quarantined again on Saturday night as the city imposed a 9 p.m. curfew due to recent protests over the murder of George Floyd and police brutality. The message sent by protestors in the streets of Atlanta apparently has not been received by some officers as two members of the AUC were forcefully arrested on Saturday.  

Morehouse student Messiah Young was driving a car with Spelman student Taniyah Pilgrim riding in the front passenger seat when the vehicle was stopped by Atlanta police. The two were trying to get home when the car’s tires were slashed. 

Pilgrim was forced out of the car first, put on the ground and had her hands tied behind her back. Another officer bashed the driver’s side window open, tased Young and forced him out of the car and onto the ground. This gruesome scene was caught live on television. Tweets from family and friends say that Young and Pilgrim were dragged out of the car, beaten and arrested.

As a result of being tased, Young had an epileptic seizure and was taken to a nearby hospital. Pilgrim and Young have been released from police custody and will have any charges against them dropped. 

“In the wake of recent events in the City of Atlanta and across this country,” President of Morehouse College Dr. David Thomas said in a statement on Sunday, “I stand with you, saddened and angered by the many ills that plague our nation. I further support your efforts to protest as a collective demand for justice.” 

Samaiya Butler, a friend of both AUC Alumni, organized a GoFundMe page in response to the assault by the Atlanta Police. So far, the campaign has raised more than $74,000.  

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms discussed the incident at her press conference Sunday night.  

“There clearly was an excessive use of force,” Bottoms said. “We understand that our officers are working long hours under an enormous amount of stress. But, we also understand that the use of excessive force is never acceptable.” 

Bottoms also discussed the future of the five officers involved in the incident. Two of the officers involved in yesterday’s incident will be terminated. The other three officers will be on desk duty while it’s being determined if any further disciplinary action needs to be taken against them. 

“I think as law enforcement, if we are ever going to get out of this space we are in today, we have to recognize that our behaviors cannot be consistently pardoned because we are law enforcement,” Atlanta Chief of Police Erika Shields said at the press conference. 

Bottoms has extended the city’s curfew starting Sunday night at 9 p.m. through sunrise on Monday morning. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp extended a state of emergency across Georgia through next weekend. 

We will have more on the story as it develops.