For young black men in Philadelphia, sometimes just walking down the street is all it takes to earn a two-month stint in jail. On Dec. 8 2010, then-18-year-old Isaiah Smith was just returning from visiting his cousin, when he noticed two police officers who were patrolling the area peering out at him from their squad car.
The two officers returned to riding through the neighborhood and Smith thought nothing of it. Not until he found himself against the squad car, and countless officers surrounding him.
“When they grabbed me I had asked, why?” Smith said from his North Philadelphia home. “One of the arresting officers told me that I was being arrested for being an asshole.”
He was about to learn a valuable lesson about the strained trust between the police and residents in vulnerable neighborhoods.
While he was held, Smith overheard the description of who the officers were looking for, a male with braids wearing a gray sweat suit. Smith had braids, but was wearing something completely different.
He soon found himself in front of a woman, unable to see because of the bright lights being shined in his face.