A video shot by an onlooker shows an Allentown police officer putting his knee to hold his down. The video was recorded after 6:30 p.m. on Saturday outside of St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Hospital on the 400 block of West Chew Street.
The video is reminiscent of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis. In it, three police officers are seen arresting a man outside the St. Luke’s Hospital-Sacred Heart . An Allentown police officer is seen holding the unidentified man down with his face in the pavement, while another officer places his knee on the man’s neck.
BREAKING:@AllentownPolice were filmed Saturday evening applying the same force to a resident that the cops used to murder #GeorgeFloyd.
This happened here in #Allentown outside a hospital.
We demand answers. We demand change.
We're Done Dying.#DefundThePolice pic.twitter.com/AbuyvkMNdT
— Black Lives Matter to Lehigh Valley (@BLMlehighvalley) July 12, 2020
The video prompted a protest in Allentown organized by Black Lives Matter to Lehigh Valley on Saturday night. Both Allentown’s Mayor Ray O’Connell and Police Chief Glenn Grannitz showed up at that protests to ease tensions. He called the video “disturbing.” “I think we need to gather all the facts and information before we go forward,” O’Connell said.
The executive director of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley, Hasshan Batts, posted a Facebook video where he called for action. Protesters gathered at Seventh and Hamilton streets.
“Where are we going to make it loud and clear that this is not OK?” he said during his Facebook live video, en route to the meeting spot. “If this is not OK to you, meet me on Seventh and Hamilton, right now.”
“We’re done,” Black Lives Matter to Lehigh Valley leader Justan Parker said. “People think that it couldn’t happen here and it has been happening and it happened yesterday. So enough is enough.”
“My takeaway from the video is that Black and Brown lives don’t matter to APD or to the city,” Parker said.
Allentown police said that officers observed the man vomiting and staggering along the street before making his way onto the emergency room’s driveway. When officers and hospital staff confronted the man, he allegedly screamed and spat in their direction.
That’s when, according to police, officers attempted to restrain the man and they fell to the ground. Police say the man allegedly continued to be non-compliant, which led to officers continuing to restrain him while hospital staff applied a spit shield.
The man was treated at the hospital and later released, police say. The man’s name has not been released.
Earlier this month, the police department released its use of force policy. It specifically bans chokeholds and neck restraints, like the one seen in the video.
“People think that it couldn’t happen here and it has been happening and it happened yesterday. So enough is enough.”