Oregon State Police last week released body camera footage of a trooper stopping a college student for allegedly riding her bicycle on the wrong side of a street.
The Oct. 13 incident, which led to the arrest of Oregon State University student Genesis Hansen, 22, has spurred controversy in the university town, Corvallis. The local NAACP chapter raised concerns about “implicit bias” and “systemic racism,” The Oregonian reported.
State Police said they made public the 38-minute video “in an effort towards transparency.” In the footage, the arresting trooper, Kelly Katsikis, spends more than 20 minutes trying to reason with Hansen, whose face has been blurred out.
However, Hansen insists her alleged infraction is really just a “disagreement.” She denies that she was riding on the wrong side of the street and says that anyway the painted dividing line is not visible.
When Katsikis repeatedly orders her to identify herself, Hansen refuses and demands to know which law requires her to show him ID.
“I don’t answer questions,” she keeps saying.
Eventually, a Corvallis police officer arrives at the scene, and Katsikis updates him on the situation. He notes that a small crowd has gathered nearby and is filming and intermittently shouting at him in what he calls a “circus.”
Genesis Hansen says she’s “an African American mixed woman”
Hansen then suggests the stop has to do with her race.
“You have to understand people who look like me are often …” she starts to say.
Katsikis interjects” “What do you look like? You keep saying that. I don’t understand what you look like. How do you look any different than me?”
“Well, I’m an African American mixed woman,” Hansen says. “I’m a petite figure. So I will say that men who are in a police uniform often abuse their power and the rules that they have. All I’m asking is for you to show me the rule of this violation.”
Katsikis tells Hansen: “It is customary in our society that when a police officer who is clearly identified as such tells you to pull over for a violation, you go along with the program. That is the requirement. You are lawfully required to provide identification. And then the officer gets to decide whether you get a warning, a ticket or you get arrested if you’ve committed a crime.”
After some more back and forth, Katsikis says: “I no longer wish to give you a warning. So now I need your identification to give you a citation because that’s what I intend to do.”
“I don’t feel comfortable giving you my information,” Hansen responds.
“I understand that,” Katsikis says. “There will be consequences if you make that choice.”
Katsikis and the second officer then move to arrest Hansen. When she resists, they pin her to the ground and handcuff her.
“Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop!” she screams. “I will comply. I need both of you to get off of me.”
“That’s not going to happen,” one of the officers says.
Hansen yells: “They say I’m resisting. I’m not moving!”
Meanwhile, some people in the crowd move closer.
“Whoa! No!” “Don’t touch her!” someone shouts.
“You are an abuser!” someone else says.
One of the officers tells the bystanders to back off or they will be under arrest, too.
Katsikis arrested Hansen for interfering with a peace officer and resisting arrest. But, according to The Oregonian, she had only been charged as of Wednesday with a traffic violation for “Failure to Drive on the Right.”
“Lady doesn’t understand the Law”
On Tuesday, the Corvallis-Albany NAACP held a news conference condemning the police. Chapter president Angel Harris accused the officers of committing a “civil rights violation” and called it “another example of racial inequity and excessive use of force imposed on communities of color by law enforcement.”
“We are here to take a stand because black and brown people across this country have stories, too many stories similar to Genesis Hansen’s, except some of them are not alive today to tell it,” she said.
However, on social media, some commenters saw the situation differently. In a thread about the video titled “Lady doesn’t understand the Law,” members of the Reddit community JusticeIsServed were in near unanimous agreement that Hansen had broken the law and the officers had done nothing wrong.
State Police said in a statement that they are “committed to eliminating racial profiling and implicit bias in policing” and that “these allegations are being meticulously reviewed.”
On Wednesday, they said that next year they will stop providing law enforcement to Oregon State University. They did not mention Hansen and said they had been considering the move for months, citing staffing shortages.