Transcript, Web links and Credits below.
Hey Everybody! It’s Thursday, April 25th, and today I want to take some time to unpack the horrible case of police brutality against an unarmed, non-violent 15-year-old boy from Broward County, Florida, named Lucca Rolle. As you may have seen, students filmed videos of this encounter that quickly went viral. Lucca’s a sweet kid, but in an instant, he was brutalized more by local police than most mass murderers — including heavily armed mass murderers right there in Broward County.
Today I’ll tell you about this case, shed some light on some important documents I’ve obtained, give us some insight into what’s likely going to happen next, and then we’ll move to some action steps that we can take together. We’re not just here to change the news, we’re here to change the world.
This is Shaun King and you are listening to (THE BREAKDOWN)
Coral Springs, Florida, is a pretty fancy city. Year in and year out, it’s regularly ranked as one of top 2 or 3 cities in the entire state to raise a family or start a business. It’s what they call a master-planned community. It has super strict codes on what every single building in the city has to look like, how tall they can be, what colors are allowed, what materials they have to be made out of. Sixty years ago, it didn’t even exist. Coral Springs was dreamed and launched and built in the 1960s and has marched to the beat of its own drummer every since. It’s not cheap, either. If you live there, it’s highly likely that you first got there because you learned that it was a safe place to raise kids. And even though the town is majority white, tens of thousands of Black and Latino families have moved to Coral Springs looking for the same types of opportunities and freedoms that white folk there want. They want good schools and safe neighborhoods like everybody else.
But just one week ago, on last Thursday, when school was let out of J.P. Taravella High School, Black families were forced to learn a painful lesson that what makes white families feel safe in Coral Springs can actually be a grave danger for Black children. After school was let out, as they often do, hundreds of kids began walking home and purchasing snacks and treats along the way. The nearby McDonald’s, as it is in cities across the country, is a popular after-school hangout and snack spot. And as kids gathered in the parking lot, the crowd got bigger and bigger, some said it was because a fight was going to break out, but whatever the case, as the crowd of Black students got bigger, somebody did what they always do — they called the police.
For just a moment, please allow me to break down how the mere act of calling 911, is so radically different for Black and white people.
(BREAK IT DOWN MUSIC)
We now have listeners in 180 countries, so first, let me explain that in the United States, in all 50 states, if you pick up any phone and dial 911, it immediately connects you with an emergency dispatch operator, who can then call the police or an ambulance on your behalf and have them come to the location where you say an emergency is taking place. We pay for this service with our taxes and, for the average white person in America, they will openly tell you that if they were in an emergency, they wouldn’t give a second thought to calling 911 for police or an ambulance to show up.
But for Black people, calling 911 has always been problematic. It’s hard to believe it, but the clip I’m about to play you from the famous Public Enemy song entitled “911’s a Joke” is now 29 years old.
29 years ago, Flavor Flav and Public Enemy recorded a track on how problematic it can be when Black people call 911. 29 years later, I think it’s even worse — and the result is that Black people will go to great lengths to never even call 911 because doing so might cause you more problems than you had before you called. You might call the police for help — as I have seen working with many families across the years on — only for police to show up and brutalize or even kill the person who needed help. When you can, Google any one of these names: Tanisha Anderson. Google Matthew Ajibade. Google Charleena Lyles.
Years ago, in an article I wrote, I interviewed scores of Black folk who just outright said they’d never call 911 — even in an emergency. They see it as a service for white people.
And we see that played out in the culture when we see videos of white people calling 911 not like it’s for life or death emergencies, but using it like a customer support center — calling the police on Black people cooking out, calling the police on Black people selling lemonade, calling the police on Black people passing out campaign flyers, calling the police on Black real estate agents showing off homes. You name it — we have a viral video of a white person using 911 to call the police on Black people. It’s a long list.
But what I want our listeners, particularly our white listeners to know, is that when you call 911 on Black people, you do so knowing full well that it could get them brutally injured or even killed. And that it doesn’t matter if the situation warrants brute force, that when you call 911 on Black people, it’s highly likely that brutal or lethal force could be used. Which brings us back to Coral Springs, Florida.
(Music change or transition).
When school was let out at J.P. Taravella High School last Thursday, the walk to McDonald’s was normal. But the moment someone felt the need to call 911, what became a normal Thursday afternoon immediately became something altogether different. Multiple cop cars pulled up, and if you’ve seen the videos, the officers are dressed in what looks like tactical military gear — and they were high strung from the beginning. Instead of simply asking the kids to disperse, police started laying their hands on kids, jerking them, and throwing them around. And when they did so to one young student, 15-year-old Lucca Rolle noticed that the kid’s cell phone fell on the ground.
This was an innocent moment. The phone was on the pavement and Lucca literally just bent down to be helpful and pick it up, but, in that moment, instead of seeing a helpful boy, Officer Greg LeCerra of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office saw a threat. I’ve watched the video 100 times. I see a boy. Unarmed, non-violent. Baby faced. He’s tiny. He’s in a small red tank top. I have kids his age. They walk home from school. They go to McDonald’s. They are helpful. But the sheriff, at close range, decided to spray commercial grade pepper spray right in Lucca’s face.
And guess what Lucca did? He did what anybody and everybody sprayed with pepper spray does, he started to rubs his eyes like crazy, struck with so much pain. Again, he did nothing wrong. He didn’t disobey any orders. But soon the officers slammed him on the ground and Sheriff Christopher Krickovich mounted Lucca’s back, deliberately and forcefully smashed his head onto the ground, then began pummeling Lucca’s face with both fists.
By the time they were finished with him, Lucca was spitting blood everywhere and his entire face was covered in blood from the wounds the police caused.
Today, I was able to review several of the written reports from the officers and each of them, as we detailed here in episodes 12, 13, and 14 of The Breakdown, each of them has already been trained on exactly what to say to justify their brutality. They each said that they were outnumbered by students 200-to-1, but listen, that’s the case everywhere cops are. That’s the ratio of cops per person in every city. In their reports, they say that they felt threatened by Lucca.
And I have to pause here for a moment, because what we see is that police officers treat Black children like they are monsters and treat white monsters, no matter their age, like they are children. In fact, just 6 miles away from this McDonald’s is Parkland, Florida — where 17 students and staff were murdered in a mass shooting and 17 more were injured. And this same Sheriff’s Department arrested a heavily armed mass murderer without so much as inflicting a single scratch. Ask yourself why that is? I think you know the answer.
Ask yourself why Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who murdered nine beautiful souls at a church in Charleston was peacefully arrested without incident and given some Burger King afterwards. Ask yourself why we see mass shooter after mass shooter, many whom are heavily armed and just brutally murdered scores of people, ask yourself why they got a level of dignified treatment that Lucca didn’t receive.
And I have to conclude that their words are true — they see Lucca as a threat — and treated him with brute force as a result, but they just don’t see fully armed white murderers as the same threat and so they treat them with a level of peace and professionalism that was completely missing with Lucca.
And here’s what we know — the District Attorney there, Michael J. Satz — just dropped all of the bogus charges against Lucca. And that’s important for two reasons. It means Lucca won’t have a record — and he doesn’t deserve one — but it also means something else very important. If Lucca committed no crime, if he didn’t resist arrest, if he didn’t obstruct justice, if he didn’t assault an officer — which were the crimes he was charged with — if he didn’t commit those crimes, then that removes some of the legal justification the police hoped to use in order to justify their brutal assault of Lucca.
Which brings me to our ACTION STEPS for today.
(Action Steps Music)
First and foremost, I posted 5 action steps on my Instagram page, please go there and take all of those steps. There I have the phone numbers and email addresses of many of the people you need to contact. Do those things. They help. I’ve seen them help many times. It lets the people in power there know that you are watching and that you care. Please try to do all of them between 9:00 A.M.-4:00 P.M. EST so that they have the most impact.
But let me give us all one big new action item. I need us to contact the Governor of Florida, Ron Desantis. Listen — put away your views of him. Put away your thoughts that this won’t matter. Politicians are political. They hate to be contacted and flooded with email and phone calls and tweets from people about a topic that makes them look bad — so here’s what we’re going to do.
Call the Governor’s Office and let them know how much you believe the Broward County Officers who brutalized 15-year-old Lucca Rolle need to be fired and charged with assault. Ask to speak to a real person to file a report or leave a message. Be respectful but be persistent.
Here’s one number. Save it in your phone. Ask to speak to someone and leave a message or file a report.
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Take care everybody.
Produced by Willis Polk II
Additional Instrumentation by: Christian Idris “Idrys” Shannon, Lance “Lance Fury” Powlis & Markeith Black
Additional Engineering by Amond “AJ” Jackson for Salem Psalms Library
Additional Vocals by Garnett “Natti” Bush
Scratches by Kenny “DJ FlipFlop” Vanderberg
Contains elements from:
“911 is a Joke” by Public Enemy