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Skyway arrest video leads to talk about race, IDs — and skyways’ unclear public/private boundaries

MinnPost photo by Bill Lindeke
This is the area where Christopher Lollie was sitting before his arrest. In St. Paul all the skyways are publicly owned and are open to the public.

There are many ways to look at the Christopher Lollie story, the arrest in January of a man sitting in the St. Paul skyway waiting to pick up his children from day care. Probably the best way to look at the incident is to simply watch the now-viral YouTube video, which languished on Lollie’s phone as police evidence for six months, until trespassing and other charges were dismissed on July 31.

In the light of the recent incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, Lollie’s story takes on an all-too-familiar shade of racial profiling, and could be seen as flashpoint for a larger conversation about policing. (It’s a conversation that Mayor Chris Coleman seems to be willing to embrace.) You could look at the state’s identification laws and how Lollie’s allegations of profiling were handled by the St. Paul police. From an urban design perspective, however, the Lollie incident points to something else.

To me, it is no coincidence that Lollie’s violent arrest happened in the skyway. Despite decades of efforts in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the skyway system has never had clear boundaries between public and private space. (St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing said Wednesday, however, that Lollie was in a public area even though a security guard told police it was private.)

History of skyway system

For better or worse, our downtown skyways are probably the most distinctive things about the Twin Cities’ downtowns. It all started back in the 1950s, when the city was rapidly changing. A number of things were happening at the same time. Streetcars were disappearing, replaced by ever-increasing  private cars that dramatically reshaped the urban landscape, clogging streets and demanding parking. In 1956, food giant (and cultural symbol) General Mills left downtown behind for good, in favor of a new suburban campus out in Golden Valley. That same year, Dayton’s opened the Southdale Shopping Center in Edina, at the time a pioneering utopian vision of a new town square. (I have written about this previously on my personal blog, both about the history and emergence of the skyways in the 1950s, and about their cloudy status as quasi-public space.)

All these events really bothered downtown leaders, who were desperate to ensure continued relevance for Minneapolis’ central business district. In response they formed the (still-extant) Downtown Council, and spurred the birth of the Minneapolis Planning Department. The first priority for both bodies was to figure out how to “save downtown.” By 1959, Minneapolis had its first modern city plan, and it was full of references to a potential skyway system. One of the chief attributes was to de-stress the city and provide a relaxing atmosphere, akin to the new suburban malls. For example, the draft plan reads:

“Persons in the central area will gain a more relaxed attitude which will presumably add to their efficiency and improve their general well-being and attitude toward life. Since there are so many of them, this could have a salutary effect on the whole city.”

To page through the plans for a future downtown (circa 1959) is to imagine downtown Minneapolis at its absolute peak, full of traffic and shopping and people, trucks cars and different modes of transit. It must have been madness at midday, and de-clogging the roads was the No. 1 priority.

The 1959 draft plan for Minneapolis skyways emphasized separating pedestrians from motorists.

Skyways remained a twinkle in downtown eyes until a businessman named Les Park began planning a new office building at 6th and Marquette. As he built it, he constructed the city’s first skyway over Marquette Avenue in 1962. The system slowly expanded until the completion of the skyway-centric IDS Center, which knit the network into a critical mass. 

Since then, Minneapolis’  skyways have grown into the largest in the world, through a series of new buildings, inelegant retrofit additions, and city-owned skyways to outlying parking ramps. The bulk of St. Paul’s skyway is a few years younger than Minneapolis, and was built with help from a federal grant; but one could argue that it makes an even larger mark on its (smaller) downtown. 

Are skyways public space?

To be technical, whether the skyways are public space depends on which city you’re in. In Minneapolis, most of the skyways are privately owned, a legacy of the way the system was first constructed. This means that each skyway is built and maintained independently (one reason for the interesting architecture). Thus each one has distinct operating hours, which can lead to confusion (though, at some point in the 1980s, Minneapolis began trying to regulate and standardize the hours). 

In St. Paul, on the other hand, all the skyways are publicly owned and operated and are open to the public (see “General Policy Statement for the Construction of the Saint Paul Skyway System”). Jennifer Yoos, a practicing architect in Minneapolis who has studied the skyway system, explained the difference in the two cities’ policies to me.

“St. Paul is different because it’s public,” Yoos told me. “There seem to be spaces that are kind of set up for the public to use and hang out and spend time, as if it was a street space with a park bench. But in the ordinances they restrict how people can use the spaces of skyways.”

Unlike Minneapolis’ more piecemeal tapestry of private spaces, St. Pauls’ skyways are governed by policies that dictate design and expectations. Because they are officially public and were more carefully regulated, you would imagine that the St. Paul skyways would feel more like a public space.

In practice, though, as the Lollie incident reveals, the rules in skyways are always unclear. No matter their legal status, these spaces exist as a gray area where the borders between public and private space bleed together into an indistinct mass. For example, in some cases, the technical right-of-way (i.e. walkway) might be public, while chairs outside shops or office building lobbies might be private. In other cases, everything is private, even though the public has de facto access. The lack of clear lines makes negotiating the skyways a literal and figurative maze, where the rules are often invisible.

The skyway system is full of these gray areas: lobbies and foyers and semi-public tables tucked into alcoves. When combined with the imperfect wayfinding, private surveillance, often-locked bathrooms, and obscure doors to the street, the skyways are not inviting to the general public. In other words, unless you happen to work in them, skyway spaces feel exclusive.

Fixing the skyways

With one thing, Lollie is not alone; it can be tough to find a place to sit down. Last year, well known downtown St. Paul artist Ken Avidor was harassed by security guards for sketching in the skyways. And, according to Nancy Fischer, who teaches urban sociology at Augburg College in Minneapolis, being told to “move along” is  a regular occurrence for anyone walking around the skyways of either city. This last year, Fischer had an urban studies class do a senior project for which they analyzed, measured and brainstormed ways to improve the St. Paul skyways.

“Although there are formal stipulations and guidelines by the city of St. Paul which designated them as public space for a certain amount of hours, in practice it’s not the same as a street,” Fischer explained to me.

Fischer’s students enlisted other students to conduct pedestrian counts. During the study, most of the students doing counts were asked to move along and not sit in the skyways. According to Fischer, the only thing unusual about Lillie’s experience within the skyways was how easily it escalated.  

“I guess what does surprise me is that he wasn’t just asked to move along and that it escalated,” Fischer told me this week. “It surprises me, but it doesn’t surprise me. Because as a sociologist, I know the history and current state of race in America. A 90-year-old [using a] walker is not going to generate that response.”

The future of skyways

Even beyond the public space confusion, skyways have long remained a controversial part of the Twin Cities’ downtowns because, according to many urban design experts, they erode street life by segregating the pedestrian population. (The argument for them is even simpler; just ask anyone when it’s cold out.) But given how embedded they are within the existing architectures, where buildings are often designed and built around skyway access, both downtowns seem to be stuck with their skyways for the foreseeable future.

Compared to Minneapolis, with its larger downtown residential and office populations, St. Paul has been more reluctant to expand its skyway system. Lucy Thompson, a St. Paul city planner, says that people often wrongly describe her as being against the skyway system. On the contrary, she told me, she wants to maintain it without expanding into areas with a lot of active street life.

“City policy is to really strengthen the core skyway system that’s in place right now,” Thompson told me, “but not to encourage the expansion of the skyway system outside of that core. We need to retain the active street life in the two park districts, around Rice Park and in Lowertown.”

Improving the skyways seems difficult. Making sure that they act and feel like true public spaces would require a lot of work by building owners and the city, to attempt to provide spaces for people like Lillie (or Fischer’s students) to sit and relax, and to include art, street musicians or other things that would re-inscribe their status as public spaces.

The skyways are certainly not the only thing to blame for Lollie’s stomach-turning encounter with the police. After all, men and women (particularly African-Americans or homeless) are harassed by both public and private police on the street every day.

Yet it’s difficult to imagine Lollie’s story happening on a bench in Rice Park or a stoop in a downtown plaza. To me, the murky public/private status of the skyway system only exacerbates the existing tensions between black and white, rich and poor. Next time you find yourself walking through the skyway, and looking for a place to sit down, you might want to remember that.

Comments (63)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 09/04/2014 - 09:50 am.

    Gray areas?

    Having “gray areas” is good for the white profilers. Take the black out of gray and you have white. Get rid of any left over marginal people and you have lily white. While it may be hard for the author to imagine this happening in Rice Park, it is even harder for me to imagine this happening to a fifty year old white guy in a suit or an attractive young woman in business clothes.

    If I were Lollie, I’d have a lawyer by now and I’d be suing whoever employed the private security guard and the cops who should have known better. And tasering? I got the sense they tasered him because he wouldn’t stop and talk. At that point they weren’t preventing a crime but a lapse of manners as they saw it.

    Jim Crow may be dead but his ghost is still haunting us.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 09/04/2014 - 10:12 am.


      It seemed to escalate when they asked him for his name and he refused to give it. And I have to agree that I don’t see why – other than as a show of “I’m in charge here!” – there should be a requirement to give your name in such a benign “conflict”. After all, once the police showed up, he did move, but they were the ones who then essentially pursued him because he wouldn’t give them his name.

      Perhaps a person familiar with such things (a police officer) could weigh in with what was so all-fired essential about him giving his name in that situation that his refusal to do so culminated in tasering and arrest. Because as a citizen who broke no laws, it seems to me he should have been free to simply leave – no name-giving required.

      • Submitted by Mark Kulda on 09/04/2014 - 11:58 am.

        Why names are needed

        When a person is in a public place,the police should have the ability to get that person’s name to ensure the safety of the public by making sure that people who have outstanding felony warrants are dealt with. What if Mr. Lollie had been a murderer and had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Would you want to be walking in the same skyway as he is? Or would you want the police to know who he was to make sure he wasn’t wanted. I agree that his race likely played a role in how he was treated but nobody is a public place should be surprised if a police officer asks who you are.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/04/2014 - 01:30 pm.

          Names are not required

          Minnesota law does not require that people identify themselves (show their papers) on the demand/request of law enforcement. A law like that just gives the police more reason to bother someone whose looks they don’t like.

          “Would you want to be walking in the same skyway as he is? Or would you want the police to know who he was to make sure he wasn’t wanted.” Perhaps everyone should be required to undergo a thorough check for outstanding warrants before they are allowed in the skyway. Then again, why limit it to the skyway? Sidewalks, public parks, public buildings–potential criminals are everywhere!

        • Submitted by Peter Mikkalson on 09/05/2014 - 12:40 pm.

          Your papers please (in thick German accent).

        • Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 09/05/2014 - 09:40 pm.

          Luckily in America “What if” is still not enough to detain someone. If you want to go by what if, then the police should ask every single person they ever see for their name because, “What if” scary stuff.

      • Submitted by Bill Lindeke on 09/04/2014 - 01:24 pm.

        not legal

        Minnesota is not a state where people on foot have to identify themselves. It’s a decision on rights that we have made collectively, and should be respected by the police.


        1. Do you have to identify yourself to the police? It depends. When driving yes – driving is a privilege. When walking (in Minnesota) no – “police can never compel you to identify yourself without reasonable suspicion to believe you’re involved in illegal activity.” Minnesota is not a stop and identify state, unless the police have “reasonable suspicion”. [1] [2] [3]

  2. Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/04/2014 - 10:04 am.

    Can’t Sketch in the skyway? Who knew?

    Charges dismissed, AFTER a tazing?
    It doesn’t sound like the St Paul skyways are a friendly place.

    These stop & frisk rent-a-cops should be fired & charged for false arrest.

    It is daylight out. Where was the day care with respect to the skyway & what time of day? The stores were open. Those should be instructive.

    What’s next:
    Stay out of the megamall unless you buy something – first?

  3. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 09/04/2014 - 10:47 am.

    The problem here ain’t the skyway

    And trying to drag that into this story obscures the real problems with the behavior of the security guard and police.

    • Submitted by Bill Lindeke on 09/04/2014 - 11:19 am.

      I respectfully disagree

      The police behavior is the #1 issue. But public space plays a role too. It is all-too-common for people to be told to “move along”, and that our skyways are not public spaces despite the fact that they technically are public spaces.

      In this case, one of these incidents became a flash point for a larger conflict. But that doesn’t change the architecture of the situation. It is quite literally “structural racism.”

      • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 09/04/2014 - 11:49 am.

        It’s not “technically” a public space

        In St. Paul it is literally and legally a public space. The fact that it wasn’t treated as such in this case has nothing to do with the skyway itself, it has everything to do with the people responsible for overseeing those spaces not knowing or not caring about that fact.

        I completely agree with the notions about skyways being harmful in some ways to the vitality of the city, but I just don’t see how this incident can be blamed in any meaningful fashion on the skyway itself.

  4. Submitted by Peter Mikkalson on 09/04/2014 - 11:33 am.

    One of the biggest urban myths…

    perpetuated by the cops in this state is that you ‘must show id upon demand’. Nothing could be further from the truth. Federal and State Constitutional protections prohibit such involvement by the state in your life-barring probable cause that a crime has been committed. Even a ‘terry stop brought about by a ‘reasonable and articulable suspicion’ of wrong-doing, does not by itself give cause to demand an identification from the subject. Only when an arrest is made or a citation may be given (both upon probable cause) should an id be provided. Unfortunately, it’s when the subject declines the polite policeman’s invitation to add to his ‘subject database’ that crimes become ‘invented’. Disorderly conduct and obstruction of the legal process-two of the charges lodged here initially are the most over-abused charges ever perpetrated by Minnesota-Nice police.

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/04/2014 - 02:11 pm.

      Need we point out — RENT-A-COPs?

      These aren’t even the cops!

      Rent-A-Cops security guards can demand ID & taze you as you walk away?

      • Submitted by Peter Mikkalson on 09/04/2014 - 03:59 pm.

        The St. Paul PD is the party responsible for the tazing (and harassment)…

        • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/05/2014 - 02:48 pm.

          I stand corrected – the offenders were cops!

          Sorry, I read it as the rent-a-cops did this.
          But apparently its the cops that had too much testosterone & attitude.

          Same thing stands – stores do not own the skyways! Lose those cops.
          They can’t just call to have people removed in the public space outside their businesses.

          They have no business demanding to know who you are, for merely existing.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 09/04/2014 - 04:01 pm.

        I think they were St. Paul police

        I’d have to view the video again (or review some articles), but my recollection is that it was a private security officer who first asked him to move, and that when he refused, the private security officer called the St. Paul police and they are the ones on the video demanding his ID and then escalating the situation until they decided to taser him.

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/04/2014 - 05:04 pm.

    Thank you, officers

    …for giving me yet another reason not to go downtown to eat, shop, or engage in whatever other perfectly innocent and legal activities I might want to pursue. If the object of downtown associations is to keep them vibrant, relevant and inviting to the general public, this incident ought to be seen by those people as a public relations catastrophe. It should also be viewed that way by both Mayor Coleman and Mayor Hodges. Even if we leave aside race and class issues – which we can’t, really – the prospect of being told to “move along” when all you’ve done is stop to sit down leaves a bad taste.

    RB Holbrook’s 1:30 PM comment comes pretty close to hitting the nail on the head. What we have here is not just a failure to communicate, but a rather pointed example suggesting to many area citizens that coming downtown, or living downtown, is not something to be seriously considered. Phrased politely, this is not a message either Mayor ought to be sending, nor tolerate being sent by private “security” firms. “Police State” and “freedom” are… um… not synonymous, so, among other things, I’m wondering where our usual “conservative” commenters stand on this.

    It doesn’t help matters that the legal status of the skyway itself is dramatically different (in the legal sense) between Minneapolis and St. Paul. My own inclination as a user would be to treat skyway space the same way I treat mall space – assume it’s privately owned, and that “free speech,” for example, won’t be allowed if what’s being said or posted is something with which the corporate owners of the skyway disagree. Corporations big enough to own skyways are not democratically-run, and generally have little or no interest in free public expression unless it’s a message that reflects positively on the company.

    I confess I’ve never been a skyway user except on a couple of occasions, and even then by accident. I don’t know of a map that shows where they all are, and what they connect to, and in general, my response to skyways is pretty much like that of the author: “…unless you happen to work in them, skyway spaces feel exclusive.” Exclusivity and “public” are essentially opposites.

    • Submitted by Bill Lindeke on 09/05/2014 - 11:03 am.

      maps and wayfinding

      there have been many attempts over the years in both cities to think about how to make the skyways “more public”, using wayfinding, standardized hours, elaborate and easy-to-understand entraces to the street, etc.

      it all comes down to the fact that these buildings are private property, and having public right-of-way inside them is a paradox that is difficult to resolve. as long as building owners don’t want the public in their buildings (and they often do not), we will have these profiling and security situations, IMO.

  6. Submitted by Joanne Simons on 09/04/2014 - 09:38 pm.


    All these years. All these stories about the Twin Cities having this vast skyway system that allows the public to traverse the two downtowns in relative comfort, given our frosty climes.

    And now we’re told that it’s a private maze. And private guards can tell us that inviting seating arrangements that appear to be for the public to use are really just decorations or for the employees within?

    What absolute, ridiculous garbage. If you don’t want the public to sit down outside your business (which you intentionally opened or located on a skyway), then don’t put out area rugs with comfy seating arrangements with chairs and tables. And perhaps, knock off with hiring “security” people with non-existent people skills.

  7. Submitted by John Appelen on 09/07/2014 - 05:50 pm.

    Silly Question

    What was this gentlemen’s rationale for not showing his ID when asked?

    I guess I must be too compliant and respectful of authority… A police officer asks me for an ID… I give the officer my ID…

    I don’t intentionally escalate the discussion while video taping it. That seems like someone who is in it with some motive. (ie fame, money, ACLU promotion, etc)

    Well it is good you are giving him his 15 minutes of fame. Now we will see if he makes some money off it too.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 09/08/2014 - 07:42 am.

      His rationale is that it’s his right not to.

      despite what partisan, flag wavin’ freedom lovers seem to think. If he was a white christian instead of a black man with dreds, he’d have been on Sean Hannity’s show already. His motive is standing up for himself and his constitutional rights. Something that sheeple entrenched in their suburban cul-de-sac and have apparently thrown in the towel on.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/08/2014 - 11:54 am.

        Constitutional Right

        The Constitutional Right to give our Police officers a hard time while they are trying to do their job?

        You are right, I am a “sheeple”. I was taught to treat people in positions of authority with respect unless they are aggregiously abusing their authority. And even then I was taught to resolve their abuse through the politicians and courts, not buy picking a fight with that person.

        • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 09/08/2014 - 01:05 pm.

          It’s not a sign of “disrespect” to act in a way that is in accordance with your Constitutional rights. There were lots of ways the police could have defused the situation, but they chose to escalate it instead.

        • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/11/2014 - 12:55 pm.

          Yes SIR, may I have another?

          Is that the response you would endorse?

          They had no business detaining him – they didn’t want him there.
          The demanded his name.

          He refused to give it & moved on.

          What was the crime?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/08/2014 - 12:33 pm.

      Another silly question

      Have you ever been asked for your ID by a law enforcement officer for no apparent reason? I can’t say that I have. Yes, the Man has asked me for ID on occasion, but I always could figure out why. I was never just sitting in a public place, minding my own business. My guess is that the odds of that happening to the typical white male are pretty slim.

      Video taping should not escalate a discussion; in fact, I would think (based on some empirical studies) that everyone would calm down when they know they are being recorded. His motive may have been nothing more than having a record of his confrontation with the police that would not have a credibility problem.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/08/2014 - 01:17 pm.

        Did you listen real close towards the end?

        I didn’t know that our law abiding caring father had marijuana in his pocket.

        Maybe that was another reason he did not want to talk with the police.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/08/2014 - 01:57 pm.


          How did the police know that before they took him into custody?

        • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/08/2014 - 01:59 pm.

          Even if that is the case (and quite frankly, I don’t want to listen to this recording a 2nd time), what relevance does it have to the facts at hand?

          This is just like those people who say its OK that Michael Brown was shot dead for walking on a street with no sidewalks because he may or may not have stolen some cheap cigars that the cop didn’t know about until after the kid was dead. “See! Black Criminal!!”


          • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/08/2014 - 08:02 pm.


            I think we have seen a somewhat obscured video from the perspective of Lollie.

            Are you honestly ready to “convict” the officers based on that?

            Potential relevance of pot: possibility that Lollie smelled or was acting a bit off. Therefore they wanted to dig deeper.

            You are willing to give Lollie the benefit of the doubt… Why not the officers?

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/09/2014 - 09:08 am.

              The benefit of the doubt

              Shouldn’t that go to the citizen, rather than law enforcement? After all, it is the state’s burden to prove Mr. Lollie was doing something wrong. Any doubts should be resolved in his favor.

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/09/2014 - 10:09 am.

                In the court of Blogs I think it should go to both…

                We just don’t know enough detail to post an informed opinion.

                Not that it stops many of us. Most commenters here are determined to label the Police racists based on a snippet of the story. Maybe they are , maybe they aren’t. I am sure not ready to vote one way or another based on the poor quality video tape and my internal prejudices of police, society, racism, etc.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/08/2014 - 02:02 pm.

          Also . . .

          Possession of a small amount of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor. A person may not be arrested for a petty misdemeanor (the police issue a citation). Minn. Rules of Criminal Procedure rule 6, subd. 1 (c).

        • Submitted by jason myron on 09/08/2014 - 04:10 pm.

          Oh my God…not the heathen devil weed.

          I stand corrected. He should have been summarily executed directly after a swift trial made up of jurors who have garnered their expertise on the substance from watching Dragnet.

  8. Submitted by jason myron on 09/08/2014 - 12:34 pm.

    Their “job”

    isn’t to hassle people based on their appearance waiting in public areas for their kids. The police work for us and showed no respect for this gentlemen. But, according to you, without one shred of evidence, he did it for fame and monetary gain.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/08/2014 - 01:08 pm.

      Jumping to Conclusions

      Just as you believe the Police were going out of their way to harass this poor Black man, just because he was Black. Assuming there were no other risk factors that justified their actions.

      If it goes to court, maybe we will hear what really happened.

      • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 09/08/2014 - 01:31 pm.

        What other risk factors were there? He had no weapons.

        The police chose escalation, not Lollie. Why couldn’t the police have just said “Sir, we’re going to accompany you to the New Horizons to make sure your story checks out, and then you can be on your way.”

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/08/2014 - 02:50 pm.

          Do you think

          I guess I have never seen what this gentleman looked like, sounded like or smelled like at that moment. The commenters here want to jump to the conclusion that these officers were raving racists out to harass the Black citizen.

          What if… They were just good cops who could tell that something was off with the gentleman. Check out the book “Blink”.

          I find it interesting that this group of commentors dislikes people who are prejudice, yet they have no problem judging the police officers from a poor quality video clip.

          I acknowledge that they may or may not have profiled, but I sure don’t know for one way or another. You must see more here than I do. Or you think you do.

          • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 09/08/2014 - 03:28 pm.

            The problem is that Lollie’s story checks out. He actually was just sitting in the skyway for a few minutes before going to the school to pick up his kids. There wasn’t anything else sinister going on.

            Incidentally, I haven’t speculated on what the cause of the police’s actions were. I have only indicated that their actions were the ones that escalated this problem into what it became, not Lollie.

            If the problem was that Lollie was on what was believed to be private property (a fact which we the city attorney has determined to be untrue), he had moved on. At no time did the police give him a reason which would trigger his legal obligation to identify himself. So their demands carried no force of law, and if they didn’t know or understand that, it’s their problem — not his. This would have been any easy problem for the police to resolve without escalation, but they chose a different path.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/08/2014 - 06:41 pm.


              Lollie could have diffused it by showing his ID.

              My only point is that both parties made what I consider poor choices. It will be interesting to see what happens if this gets to court…

              • Submitted by Susanne Wissink on 09/09/2014 - 04:39 am.

                Poor choices?

                Lollie did try to diffuse the situation by “moving along” and explaining he was waiting to pick up his kids. He did not have to. The police were either wrong about the law or trying to assert uncalled for authority. In the same situation, I also would not have provided ID for doing nothing wrong. I am often in that same skyway catching up on email or waiting between appointments sometimes for an hour or so. I have never been asked to “move along” or for identification, but then, I am a middle aged white woman in a business suit.

                You mentioned earlier that the police should get the benefit of doubt. I think that they should get the benefit of training. They definitely need it. Their interaction was unreasonable even if their goal was to deter trespassing – which Lollie was not doing! It was when Lollie questioned their authority to tell him to move along that they made the poor choice of escalating instead of acknowledging that they were wrong. If you are doing nothing wrong in a public space, there is no need to move along. Instead of dropping it, they escalated to assert their authority and requested identification. Again a poor choice if your goal is to deter trespassing. It is a bully move. When Lollie did not provide identification and questioned their authority to demand it the police again made the poor choice of escalating instead of acknowledging that they were wrong. Many, many poor choices, but all on the part of the police.

                So yes, John, Lollie could have diffused the situation by showing his id, he could have diffused the situation by not daring to stop in a public place, and he could have diffused the situation by being white instead. But he should not have to.

                I believe it was the police’s responsibility to not escalate the situation. Step back and look at the larger picture. What was their original goal? Why? The individual officers are to blame for their actions, their supervisors are to blame for lack of appropriate training, and the city is to blame for a policy that allows harassment in a public space. I certainly do not feel welcome in the skyways anymore.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/09/2014 - 08:53 am.

                  Dress and Behavior vs Race

                  I am wondering if this has more to do with dress, appearance, behavior, scents, etc than race.

                  Do you think he would have gotten a similar reaction if he was shaved with shorter hair and dressed business casual?

                  Do you think a white man that looked and acted like him would have been treated differently?

                  I think we draw the race card too often. It doesn’t make what officers did correct, but it makes a difference. As we all know, appearance and behaviors make a huge difference in our society. We expect police officers to look out for things that are not “normal”. I assume something seemed odd and that is why they investigated further.

                  • Submitted by jason myron on 09/09/2014 - 11:25 am.


                    we should all dress, act and look the same and these things would never happen. Thanks for the insight, John, but there are a lot of us that prefer to remain individuals, not adhere to some conservative template of appearance. Once again, you show how remarkably out of touch you are with a modern society. Exactly your world, is considered “normal?”

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/09/2014 - 05:12 pm.


                      Thank you for acknowledging that it could have been something other than race that caused this situation.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/09/2014 - 05:24 pm.


                      I can wear blue jeans at my current job, however I choose to stay with business casual.

                      I can wear my comfortable paint and grease stained work clothing to a nice restaurant, however I choose to change first.

                      As you said, I am one of the sheeple. I acknowledge that people in American society will treat you different depending on how you dress, appear, behave, react, speak, etc.

                      The question then becomes is being “unique” worth the consequences that come along with it?

                      Here are a couple of interesting links I posted earlier.

                      The question is: How does one want to be perceived and treated?

                    • Submitted by jason myron on 09/09/2014 - 05:57 pm.

                      My we’re judgmental, aren’t we?

                      you just have this little 1950’s view of the world that keeps things nice and orderly for you. We’re not talking about casual dress at work or putting on appropriate clothing per the restaurant we’re going to. We’re discussing a guy in a skyway waiting for his kids to get out of daycare. I had no idea that there was a dress code for that? So, in your mind, his attire was enough to bring heat from the police? Seriously?

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/09/2014 - 07:50 pm.

                      I have No idea

                      I think that has been my point all along. We have one poor quality video of a small part of the event.

                      I am not willing to make judgements based on that, whereas many here are.

                    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/11/2014 - 04:57 pm.

                      Business Casual All Day

                      You still come back to how he was dressed.
                      Those are simply your deformed standards.

                      Are you insisting business casual is essential for him to go out in public?
                      To pick up his kid?

                      If he wore a crown, would that make anyone think differently?

                      As an addendum; a point of departure in illustration:
                      If we apply that same standard of dress to the senatorial race – what is McF running for?
                      The checked shirts he’s been sporting probably aren’t all the rage in Investment Banks or Bermuda.

                      Should we conclude he isn’t running for office, after all?

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/09/2014 - 08:55 am.

                  One more thought

                  I assume there are thousands of minorities in the sky ways each day. If this was systemic, I would assume we would hear about it more often. Thoughts?

                  • Submitted by jason myron on 09/09/2014 - 11:28 am.

                    Look around…

                    People of color are being abused by law enforcement all over this country on a daily basis. Is you world view that small? Next time, before you ask others for thoughts…how about supplying one first.

              • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 09/09/2014 - 08:57 am.

                This was an example of the police “maintaining order” instead of protecting the rights of the citizens whom it is their job to serve. When “maintaining order” is the priority, the police’s alleged authority becomes the most critical thing to uphold — and that’s completely backwards.

      • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/08/2014 - 01:43 pm.

        What really happened

        If only there were some sort of record of the confrontation, then it could be… oh, wait…

  9. Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/11/2014 - 01:00 pm.

    Why work overtime to try make up reasons for harassment?

    Well, maybe…

    There are no “well, maybe’s” from what we’ve seen.
    They can’t justify the treatment given, other than they felt like they could.

    Just because someone sits across the walkway from a store — let’s find out why the store owner or manager thought he had a right to call the cops!

    That is about as pertinent as making up reasons why, after the fact.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/11/2014 - 08:47 pm.

      Guilty of

      You asked above about what he was guilty of…

      I think my answer is that he is guilty of:
      – poor common sense and rebelling without a cause
      – poor people and communication skills
      – acting guilty by “fleeing”
      – having a major chip on his shoulder
      – carrying pot to work and to pick up his kids

      The guard asked him to move and he chose to stubbornly stay to there for an extended period. I would love to hear exactly what he told the guard during the last exchanges.(I’m guessing that did not calm the guard down) I got the perception from the reporting that other people came and went, however he was the only one that demanded he could stay there if he wished.

      Then as the female officer came, he decided to walk away instead of standing there politely and talking to her. If he had stayed calm, shown respect, stayed put and asked about the nature of the sitting area the issue may have stopped there. Instead not only did he try to walk away from and ignore her, he then started video taping and accused them of racist behavior. Not a good idea from my perspective.

      Then of course the one thing that we must all agree is illegal, this responsible citizen, employee and father is for some reason walking around with pot in his pocket. For those that think this is not important, what would you have thought of some guy walking around with an open vodka bottle in his pocket. Remember he was coming from work and going to see his children, not going to a party.

      By the way, the reason I don’t see this as an issue of racism. I think the guard and police would have treated a white guy who looked and behaved like Lollie did in a very similar way.

      If you want to think of it as a civil rights issue, maybe he should have stayed sitting there like Rosa Parks.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 09/12/2014 - 07:06 am.

        He wasn’t behaving in any way

        until the cops started hassling him. Let’s review your charges…

        I think my answer is that he is guilty of:
        – poor common sense and rebelling without a cause – Sorry, not against the law and entirely subjective.

        – poor people and communication skills- Not illegal and a common trait in offices and workplaces around the country.
        – acting guilty by “fleeing” – He was doing what you wanted him to do…leaving the area and he wasn’t running away. That’s not fleeing….you make it sound like he just knocked over a bank.

        – having a major chip on his shoulder- That’s sometimes called decisive leadership and confidence in the business community

        – carrying pot to work and to pick up his kids – welcome to the 1967 world of John Appelen. Carrying “pot” does not make him a bad person or father. Ive known professionals all of my adult life that excel in their fields who smoke marijuana occasionally. So do you, you just don’t know it.

        Your bias towards this person is beyond tiresome and your list is proof that you have absolutely no arrows in your quiver. Step into the 21st century.

        • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 09/12/2014 - 08:48 am.

          Not to mention the fact that whether or not he had pot in his pocket is entirely irrelevant to whether or not he was sitting in a place he had a right to sit, and was only discovered once the cops tased him.

          • Submitted by jason myron on 09/12/2014 - 12:58 pm.

            Well, Sean

            apparently in the Leave it to Beaver world in which Appelen resides, it’s tantamount to Lollie being Machine Gun Kelly.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/12/2014 - 11:33 pm.

            So he just happened to decide it was finally time to leave the sitting area just as the officer showed up… If he felt he was in the right, I think he would have stayed there to make a point.

            As I have said before, all participants in this drama could have made better choices.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/13/2014 - 08:53 am.

            Just curious. Would you have stopped and talked to / focus on the woman police officer?

            Or would you have continued to walk as she tried to ask you questions?

            • Submitted by jason myron on 09/13/2014 - 09:08 pm.

              I would have demanded her badge number

              explained my constitutional rights to her and told her to charge me or get out of my face…all while filming the incident and texting my attorney.

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