Protesters Demand Release Of Woman Who Threatened Police With Knife, Spit In Their Eyes

REUTERS/Ben Brewer

Philip DeVoe Contributor
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Protesters in Madison, Wisc., are calling for the release of a black woman who was arrested for spitting in the eyes of a police officer and threatening a Taco Bell employee and police with a knife.

According to Madison police, officers were called at about 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday to East Towne Mall regarding a black woman who was described by mall security as “out of control and making threats.”

Genele Laird had confronted an East Towne Mall Taco Bell employee with the claim that her phone had been stolen, showed a knife and threatened the employee, then threatened to kill mall security staff when they confronted her.

“When MPD arrived, the officers attempted to secure Laird, who actively resisted all of their attempts. While fighting with the officers, Laird spit in one officer’s face — getting saliva in his eyes — and also attempted to kick and scratch both officers. Laird was ultimately controlled outside of the mall through the use of an electronic control device,” reads the Madison police report.

She was charged with disorderly conduct while armed, resisting police (causing injury), battery to a police officer, and discharging bodily fluids. Officers recovered her knife, and were transported to a nearby hospital and treated for their injuries.

During the struggle, onlookers filmed the arrest and posted it to YouTube. The original video has been deleted, but several others were posted, including this one.

After the video spread through social media, protesters gathered outside the Madison Public Safety Building chanting, holding signs reading “Hands Off Black Women,” and demanding her release from prison and the dropping of all charges.

According to Madison’s WKOW, Dane County Boys and Girls Club president and CEO Michael Johnson joined Laird’s family to implore Madison police chief Mike Koval to drop all charges against her.

“I’m convinced based on what I’ve heard tonight that I think there could be some restorative justice program put in place but I don’t think this young lady should go to jail,” Johnson told WKOW.

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