ACLU of Kansas requests investigation after black man detained while moving into his new home

ACLU of Kansas requests investigation after black man detained while moving into his new home

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kansas has asked the state's attorney general to investigate the case of a black man who was arrested while moving into his new home at night, The Kansas City Star reported Thursday.

The letter, sent to Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt on Thursday, said police subjected Karle Robinson, a military veteran, to a “a campaign of surveillance and harassment,” which ended once Robinson's story became widely reported, according to the Star.

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According to the paper, Robinson was detained and handcuffed by Tonganoxie police in August while attempting to move into his new home around 2:30 a.m. Robinson reportedly spent eight minutes in handcuffs outside his house after police detained him as he was carrying a television into his home.

The Star reported in October that police, at the time, said they had reason to believe a crime was being committed. After viewing video of the incident, Tonganoxie Police Chief Greg Lawson said police had acted appropriately.

The ACLU of Kansas called the incident a case of "moving while black" and said it represented racial bias in the local police department.

“Each of these incidents would be concerning had they been alleged independently,” the ACLU said Thursday, according to the Star. “Together, they suggest a pervasive culture of racial bias and systemic process failure within the Tonganoxie Police Department.”

“Mr. Robinson believes his detention was motivated by his race rather than reasonable suspicion that he was committing burglary,” Lauren Bonds, the Kansas ACLU’s interim executive director and legal director, told the Star. “It also appears that the Chief of Police prevented Mr. Robinson from filing a credible, legitimate complaint and that is not in compliance with reporting and intake standards.”

The group has asked Schmidt to probe the complaint or to refer it to the Kansas Commission on Officers Standards and Training, which licenses the state's police officers.

The Tonganoxie Police Department and the Kansas attorney general's office did not immediately respond to the Star's requests for comment about the letter.