Police in Rochester, N.Y. arrested three Edison Tech High School basketball players last week because they were waiting for a school bus to take them to a scrimmage against another local team.
The three students — Daequon Carelock, Wan’Tauhjs Weathers and Raliek Redd — were charged with disorderly conduct, reports local NBC affiliate WHEC-TV. Their parents had to bail them out of custody on the day before Thanksgiving at a cost of $200 each.
The incident occurred just before 9 o’clock on Wednesday morning. School was not in session.
Edison Tech’s basketball coach, Jacob Scott, had told his team to catch a school bus at a certain spot near the intersection of North Clinton Avenue and Main Street. Thus, his players congregated there — over a dozen of them — and waited in the cold.
Alert Rochester police sprang into action after they noticed a bunch of black guys standing around on the street. They told the players to go home or otherwise disperse. The players refused to leave. The cops ended up arresting Carelock, Weathers and Redd.
“We tried to tell them that we were waiting for the bus,” Weathers told WHEC. “We weren’t catching a city bus. We were catching a yellow bus.”
“We was just trying to go to our scrimmage,” he told WROC.
At some point after the arrested players had been handcuffed, Coach Scott arrived. He tried to explain the situation to one of the police officers on the scene.
“I tell him, ‘They’re not supposed to go home because they’re supposed to be here to catch the bus to go to a scrimmage,” Scott told local CBS affiliate WROC-TV.
The police were in no mood to listen. They have since alleged that they have received a number of complaints from a store owner about people loitering, fighting and generally being up to no good near the unidentified store. Consequently, police say, they have been keeping an eye on the area.
A Google map of the intersection of North Clinton Avenue and Main Street shows a sort of grassy knoll on one corner, a half-built building on a second corner, a community college building on a third corner and, on the fourth corner, a small restaurant advertising breakfast sandwiches.
The police report about the incident cites the students for hindering “pedestrian traffic while standing on a public sidewalk” and “preventing free passage of citizens walking by and attempting to enter and exit a store.”
The report does not appear to mention how many citizens were obstructed. It also does not mention any disrespectful language or actions by the players.
“They are not bad kids,” said Crystal Chapman, the mother of one of the arrested players, according to WHEC. “They are awesome boys. They all have good grades in school.”
Rochester school board member Mary Adams, who appeared at the boys’ arraignment, called the arrests a misuse of police power.
“I think the charges should be immediately dropped and I think the district attorney’s office should be stepping in and looking at these kinds of matters,” she told WROC.
Coach Scott, who does double-duty as a guidance counselor, has discussed the arrest in considerable detail with local media.
“One of the police officers actually told me if he had a big enough caravan, he would take all of us downtown,” he told WROC.
“These young men were doing nothing wrong. Nothing wrong,” he also said. “They did exactly what they were supposed to do. And yet, they get arrested.”
Scott also argued that it’s hard to help kids draw the right lessons in these circumstances.
“These guys don’t even necessarily have to participate in extracurricular sports—in the cold,” he observed.
“I teach resiliency and abiding by the rules but, you know, it’s very tough — especially when someone is doing the right thing — and then for them to see their coach get treated the way that I got treated.”
Redd, Carelock and Weathers are due in court again on December 11.