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Philadelphia LGBTQ leaders arrested in traffic stop the mayor calls 'concerning'

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LA Post: Philadelphia LGBTQ leaders arrested in traffic stop the mayor calls 'concerning'
AP
MARYCLAIRE DALE
March 04, 2024

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The arrest of two of Philadelphia's LGBTQ leaders by a state trooper during a fraught highway traffic stop is “very concerning,” the city's mayor said after a video showing some of what happened circulated on social media.

Celena Morrison leads the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs and is a top aide to Mayor Cherelle Parker. Morrison's husband, Darius McLean, runs a community center. Both are Black, while the Pennsylvania state trooper appears to be white.

“I don’t know why he’s doing this,” McLean cries to his wife Saturday morning as she records him being handcuffed, lying on his side, on the shoulder of the elevated highway during a rainstorm. Cars pass by a few feet away.

“It’s ‘cause I’m Black,” McLean says.

“It’s not ’cause you’re Black,” replies the trooper, who leaves McLean handcuffed on the highway shoulder and then moves to arrest Morrison.

“Turn around! Give me your hands or you’re getting Tased!” the trooper tells her as she says she works for the mayor. She apparently drops the phone at that point, and the video shows only the gray sky above.

Both Morrison, 51, and McLean, 35, were detained on obstruction and resisting arrest charges after the 9 a.m. traffic stop. However, District Attorney Larry Krasner did not immediately file the charges while he investigates.

“A video circulating on social media that depicts a portion of the incident is very concerning to me,” the mayor said in a statement, adding that she will wait until the investigation concludes before saying more.

State police, which patrol the state highway that cuts through the city, declined to identify the trooper, but said he was put on restrictive duty Monday and will not be on patrol while the incident is investigated. The trooper's patrol unit does not yet have body cameras, and the agency declined to release dashboard camera video.

In the cellphone video posted online, the trooper says he stopped Morrison for tailgating and not having lights on. McLean, chief operating officer of the William Way LGBT Community Center, apparently pulled over in a second vehicle and was arrested after allegedly arguing with the officer.

“Do you want to get tased? Put your hands behind your back!” the trooper shouts as he stands over him on the roadway.

“They are! They are!” McLean cries.

“I don’t know who you are so I don’t need someone rolling up on me,” the trooper says.

“That is my husband ... That’s my husband, please,” Morrison can be heard saying out of view. “I work for the mayor. I work for the mayor."

Morrison, who is transgender, has held the position since 2020, staying on when Parker took office in January.

Chris Bartlett, executive director of the William Way Center, called the traffic stop “unjust” in a post on the group's social media site and said the center “was working with officials to remedy this terrible situation.”

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