A video posted of Philadelphia police arresting an African-American teenager believed to be selling water in front of the Philadelphia Zoo has gone viral.
The incident has become the latest incident in the growing catalogue of police being called on Black people for doing seemingly innocuous things.
By 5 p.m. Friday the video, posted on Thursday to Facebook, had received more than 175,000 views in just over 24 hours.
According to a source familiar with the situation, the zoo’s security staff apparently placed the call to the police.
Multiple calls placed by The Philadelphia Tribune to the zoo for further details were not returned.
The 92-second video opens with a view about 30 feet from the incident. The boy is already on the ground and being placed in handcuffs by a white police officer who is surrounded by screaming and befuddled kids.
At one point one of the zoo’s security officers, a Black woman, is seen pointing back and forth at a fellow white female officer and the youth on the ground and, clearly shaken by the situation, repeatedly says to her partner, “This is what you want? This is what you get.”
Moments later another Black female security officer steps in and ushers the upset colleague away.
Not long thereafter, a Black female police officer comes in to help the other officer take the young man into custody, leading him north on 34th Street toward Girard Avenue.
The youth being taken away by the police is seen wearing a shirt of the famed North Philadelphia Aztecs Pop Warner football team, and there is a football helmet that can bee seen near the incident. The teen was later released by authorities.
According to Aztecs coach Gregory Bonner, the young man in the video is not a part of the organization.
Last December, the Aztecs won the Pop Warner Division I Junior Varsity national championship when they defeated the North Carolina Bulldogs in Pompano Beach, Fla.
“I can say for certain that the young man in the video is not a part of our organization,” Bonner said. “It’s unfortunate. I just sympathize for any kid that has to do those things to raise money to play football or, more importantly, something else, maybe for family.”
Selling water and panhandling for money – where players usually don the jersey of the team they play for and collect donations in their football helmets – is a tradition by many local youth league organizations.
The corner of 34th Street and Girard Avenue is usually a beehive of entrepreneurial activity where on any given summer day multiple merchants can be find selling bottled water and members of the Nation of Islam hawking bean pies and the latest edition of the Final Call newspaper.
“They decided that they were going to make a good, honest buck by selling water on that corner, which is a gold mine for selling things,” said Asa Khalif of the Coalition for Black Lives. “They could have been selling anything – could have been selling crack cocaine. But they did the honest thing and now they have been traumatized because they have had the police called on them.”
Khalif reached out to the Philadelphia Zoo but officials did not respond. He said if his organization did not hear from zoo officials over the weekend regarding the situation, there could be protests at the zoo as early as this week.