Black candidate Roosevelt McClary detained by sheriffs while canvassing door-to-door

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Roosevelt McClary
Lauderdale Lakes City Commission District 1 candidate Roosevelt McClary (Image: Facebook)

Lauderdale Lakes City Commission candidate for District 1, Roosevelt McClary, was detained by six sheriff’s deputies from Broward County, Florida on suspicion of burglary on Wednesday. Wearing a campaign tee shirt with his name on it, McClary had been campaigning door-to-door during his lunch break.

Twenty minutes into his canvassing session, McClary was stopped by six officers driving unmarked cars, asked to sit down on the ground, and produce identification. During the ten-minute long incident police dogs and a helicopter were dispatched to the scene.

Just doing their jobs…

Candidate Roosevelt McClary had the presence of mind to film most of his encounter with the Broward Sheriffs Office (BSO). [full video below] While the incident appears to have been sparked by a series of misunderstandings, there can now be no misunderstanding about what happened once McClary was stopped.

On the video, police are responding to burglary report from a nearby home McClary had recently visited, where he had left behind campaign literature. Although he remained calm and professional throughout, McClary is obviously unhappy about being stopped.

As he is made to sit in the dirt, deputies repeatedly go out of their way to explain to McClary how professionally they are behaving. They also repeatedly address McClary with incredibly patronizing language.

“So, what is my job? My job is to what?” one deputy asks McClary. Then answering his own question he says, “To make sure that you (1) are not the suspect, or you (2) are the suspect. Right? Okay, you match the description and the house is down here.”

When McClary tries to speak the deputy says, “Are you not going house to house? So do me a favor and let me see some ID.”

McClary, currently serving as Secretary of the Broward Teachers Union, is continually spoken to by deputies as if he is a child. These same deputies then take offense when McClary draws an obvious conclusion about his treatment.

“Do you see how this is discrimination?” McClary asks politely.

“Discrimination?!” the deputy says, with exaggerated surprise, as if he is (not really) shocked at the suggestion. “The resident at the house over here thought their house was being broken into, so don’t sit there and start with that! Do you understand?” he demands.

…following up false reports

The BSO officers repeatedly explain to Roosevelt McClary how they have no choice but to detain him following the complaint. They are just doing their jobs.

According to reporting in the Miami Herald, the deputies were responding to a report by nearby resident Lissette Guevara. Guevara was not at home when McClary knocked on her door, so he left a mailer on her doorknob. This appears to have set off Guevara’s burglar alarm, triggering an automatic call to both the police and the homeowner. After being told by her security provider that someone could be seen on outside her house, Guevara then placed another call to the police herself.

Guevara’s report of a black man in a white shirt and khaki pants outside her house provoked a swift and forceful response from the BSO. Within minutes of McClary being stopped by the deputies in unmarked cars, a police helicopter can be heard overhead.

“I hope that’s not for me is it?” he asked. He was told it was. “Are you serious?!”

…but not reports from Roosevelt McClary

Perhaps the most disturbing portion of the incident comes at the conclusion of McClary’s video, when the deputies are clearly aware that there has been a misunderstanding and then start making chummy justifications for their behavior.

“You running for Lauderdale Lakes commissioner?” a plain-clothes officer asks McClary. “All right, this is what you’re going to get. You’ll get people calling in, they say A, B, C, and D. Who knows what really happened?”

But then, despite the fact that they have just detained McClary on a single, uncorroborated report, the same officers appear decidedly uninterested in listening to McClary’s complaint about an incident they themselves were party to.

“So you guys are going to get them for making false reports, right?” McClary asks.

“I will look into it,” the officer says, absentmindedly, while looking in another direction.

Moments later, the deputies quickly leave the scene.

According to McCleary, the police have taken no action to follow up on his complaint.

Speaking to News Growl, McClary expressed his frustration with how he has been treated by law enforcement authorities.

“The police haven’t taken any action against the homeowner. Upon follow up the homeowner stated she did not tell the police that someone was in her home but the alarm service did.

“I do not feel they have taken it seriously because they just took the homeowner words without reviewing who really made the call.”

Roosevelt McClary’s full Facebook video:

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