Police in St. Louis, Missouri grabbed a community college professor and then tackled him and arrested him at a board of trustees meeting because, the professor says, he wanted to tell the board about a “culture of intimidation.”
The incident occurred on Thursday during a meeting of the St. Louis Community College system’s board of trustees.
The 53-year-old adjunct math professor tackled to the ground by police is Steve Taylor.
Here is video of the pummeling incident (fast forward about two-thirds through for the pummeling):
Taylor “categorically” denies any allegation that he charged the board members, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
He says he moved forward because he was violently attacked from the back by a police officer he never saw and could not see.
Note also that the board members do not appear to be overly concerned about as Taylor gets closer to them. Two of them stand up once he is near the ground.
“All of the sudden my jacket is pulled violently from behind me, and I instinctively pulled forward,” Taylor told the Post-Dispatch. “It was shocking and it all happened so fast. In that instant, I didn’t even know what was going on.”
Taylor told the Riverfront Times, a St. Louis weekly, that he had come to the meeting with prepared remarks and had planned to speak about a “culture of intimidation” before getting pummeled by police.
“He came up behind me, and I saw his left foot take my legs out from under me,” Taylor told the Riverfront Times. “Then he full-body slams me to the concrete floor and violently put my arm behind my back. I said, ‘Sir, I am complying, I will go with you.'”
Taylor said it’s ridiculous that anyone would consider him a physical threat.
“I’m a grandfather. I’m 53. I’m a math teacher. I’m bald in the back,” he told the Times. “I don’t run and I don’t lift weights. I wasn’t walking up going, ‘I’m going to get you.'”
He suggests that his experience at the hands of the police officer suggests there is “a problem with the culture at St. Louis Community College.”
There is a backstory between the board of trustees and Taylor involving Taylor’s attempts to unionize faculty members.
Taylor said he began attending board meetings because he serves on a contract negotiation committee.
At recent board meetings, board members have been annoyed because citizens in attendance have applauded citizen speakers and citizen speakers have gone over their allotted time limits for speaking.
The board members have been especially peeved about applause during public comment.
At Thursday’s meeting, the board members tried to ban clapping but failed.
After the first person spoke during the public comment period, audience members clapped despite the clapping ban.
Board vice chairman Rodney Gee, a retired human resources employee at Edward Jones Investments, declared that anyone who clapped would be forcibly removed.
At that point, Taylor got up to speak and moved to the narrow aisle between rows of chairs.
Board members repeatedly said they did not want Taylor to speak.
Shortly after Taylor began to speak, the police officer attacked him from behind and pushed him forward and then face-first into the ground.
A statement from St. Louis Community College insists that Taylor was a threat to the board members.
“After several warnings to leave the meeting, the individual charged the table where board members and the chancellor, Dr. Jeff L. Pittman, were seated. College police responded by restraining the individual before he reached the table. The individual was subsequently arrested by St. Louis Metropolitan Police. Two other individuals were also escorted from the meeting when they became disruptive. Acting Chairman Gee restored order and public comments continued without incident,” the community college system’s statement says, according to the Riverfront Times.
“The college provides an opportunity for members of the community to address the board at its public meetings, but reserves the right to limit the time allotted for remarks,” the statement also says.
Taylor teaches at St. Louis Community College’s Wildwood campus (and two other taxpayer-funded colleges in the area).
After suffering the police beatdown, Taylor was transported to a local emergency room because he had marks on his face and claimed to have trouble breathing.
Paramedics were concerned Taylor may have had a concussion.
Taylor has received two citations as a result of the incident. One of the citations is for disturbing the peace. The second citation is for resisting arrest.
St. Louis Community College system officials have also sent Taylor a letter informing him he is no longer allowed on campus, according to the Post-Dispatch.