March 26, 2007

Arrest of Lakisa Dinkins (Mother of Gerard Mungo, Jr.)

(The following news article was written by Stephen Janis for The Examiner)

Lakisa Dinkins, mother of Gerard Mungo Jr., said police knocked down her sister’s door, entered the house without a warrant and then arrested her. Dinkins was released without charges on Saturday night.

Gerard Mungo Jr. sat outside the Baltimore city jail waiting for his mother to be released. He looked confused. “They took my mama because I was on TV,” he said. Less than two weeks ago, just days after he turned 7, Gerard was arrested for sitting on a dirt bike.

His mother, Lakisa Dinkins, was arrested Saturday afternoon because police said she interfered when they broke down the door of her sister’s home in pursuit of a drug suspect.
No drugs were found in the house, and prosecutors released Dinkins without charges.

The arrest angered city leaders. “If they attack our women and children, we will fight,” Cheatham said. Police reports say officers witnessed “two black males in close proximity standing in the street,” in the 2200 block of Prentis Place in East Baltimore on Saturday afternoon. Suspecting a drug transaction, they say they followed one of the suspects, Dinkins’ nephew, into the row house of her sister, Torsheill Bond.

“If they want war, they’ll have war,” said Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, president of the Baltimore Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, outside Central Booking, where he was also waiting for Dinkins on Saturday night, like Gerard, for Dinkins.

Protesters: 'Gerard is a symbol' for change

Family members say officers kicked down the door with guns drawn, running up the stairs before identifying themselves. “I heard my brother say, ‘We’re being robbed,’ so I grabbed my little cousin and ran outside,” said 14-year-old Torsheill Stern, Dinkins’ niece.
“We thought it was a home invasion. We had no idea what was going on,” said Seth Stern, Dinkins’ brother-in-law.

After officers failed to find drugs, police spokesman Matt Jablow said Dinkins became argumentative. “She was verbally abusive to the officer, even though she was asked politely to clam down several times,” Jablow said, claiming that Dinkins used racial slurs.
But Bond said she, not her sister, was combative with police. “I was irate because they charged into my home without a warrant. When I told them I was going to call the supervisor, they got angry,” she said. “I was the one yelling at them because they came in my house and broke down my door.”

After ordering all 11 relatives into the living room, Dinkins said, one of the officers recognized her. “I heard him tell his supervisor ‘I have the woman whose 7-year-old was arrested for sitting on the bike,’” she said. “Then they arrested me.”

(Kristen Buls/Baltimore Examiner)
Seven-year-old Gerard Mungo Jr. shed a tear when he told his own story of being arrested, handcuffed and fingerprinted by Baltimore police.

Jablow disputed Dinkins’ claims. “The arrest had absolutely and completely nothing to do with the previous incident,” he said, referring to Gerard’s arrest. Margaret Burns, spokeswoman for the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office, said the charges were dropped because the case was “legally insufficient to proceed.”

“The statement of probable cause raises more questions than it answers,” she said. “No drugs were found, and they only arrested one person out of 11.” “The initial report also did not mention that the officers had broken down the door,” she said, noting officers later filed a supplemental report that said they did in fact break down the door.

The arrest of Dinkins came just hours after more than 100 protesters gathered on a sidewalk near her home to show support for her son. “If this is our Rosa Parks incident, what it takes to wake people up, then so be it,” Cheatham said of the arrest and handcuffing of young Gerard.
“How low can it get?’ he asked the crowd. Hours later, Cheatham stood outside Central Booking in downtown Baltimore, pondering his own words.
“I just can’t believe this,” he said.

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