Dover Post Lamar arrest teaser

Dover Police responded to reports of an arrest of a journalist by releasing drone footage of the incident and calling into question the journalist's actions during the incident. 

As protests take place around the country sparked by the filmed killing of George Floyd, Delaware has seen its own movements spring up around the state. On Tuesday, June 9, 2020, Dover Post reporter Andre Lamar, who is African American, was detained during one of these protest marches in Camden. 

Authorities prefaced their statement issued Wednesday with details of a planned meeting with leaders of the local protest movement, which was canceled on the part of the protesters: 

"The department has made every effort to engage and support the core group of demonstrators over the past week of activity in and around the City of Dover. Chief Johnson and a group of officers met with the demonstrators on Friday, June 5th and Saturday, June 6th on Legislative Mall. Chief Johnson and a group of officers willingly walked arm in arm with the demonstrators to show their support and willingness to stand with OUR community on difficult issues. Chief Johnson also agreed to a meeting (Tuesday, June 9th at 3:00PM) with up to six of the group’s leaders to hold a meaningful and productive conversation about police and criminal justice reforms and discuss any of the demonstration groups objectives and goals.  At approximately 11:37PM on June 8th, the department received an e-mail submission from the group stating that they wished to cancel/postpone the meeting. On June 9th, the department called the person who sent the e-mail to confirm the cancellation in order to ensure that the message represented the entire group.  The person the department contacted confirmed the cancellation. Despite this, we were prepared to meet with the group and still hope to have that opportunity in the days ahead."

Protesters, both armed and unarmed, "began to encroach on private property and/or jump into active lanes of Route 13 traffic in order to closely engage motorists and pedestrians," throughout the week, police said. This led to several incidents where protesters were almost struck and a number of "chain reaction crashes" from panicked motorists braking to avoid impacts, according to authorities. 

Police said dialogue had become more hostile recently, citing protesters claimed "further steps needed to be taken to make people more 'uncomfortable,' and that some of the protesters were wearing body armor and were carrying weapons."

Dover Police said, ahead of the incident Tuesday, a conference call was held with senior members of the Attorney General's Office to dictate specific response protocols to such protests. 

"The purpose of this call was to clearly define the applicable laws that could be utilized to ensure public safety for all. It also included specific discussion of supported enforcement actions should circumstances again present themselves that posed a risk to safety and verbal warnings proved to be ineffective.  For consistency, DSP and Dover PD agreed ahead of time to work collaboratively to enforce the same set of standards given certain articulable circumstances that would drive enforcement decisions."

Demonstrators arrived at, but quickly left, the area of Legislative Hall on June 9th--where police said officers had been stationed who were "prepared to provide safety and traffic control to allow demonstrations to happen as they had throughout the week"--and congregated in the area of the Camden Wawa, where they began again to engage in protesting in active traffic lanes. 

"Persistent disorderly conduct and defiance of a lawful order to disperse," led to both Dover Police and Delaware State Police enforcing those orders, authorities said. 

Delaware State Police said protesters were not told to leave, but "were advised multiple times by Law Enforcement Officers the protest was not lawful because it was obstructing traffic and to exit the roadway and move onto the shoulder." After denying a marked Dover Police vehicle to proceed through, protesters allegedly became disorderly when an officer exited the vehicle. 

Despite confrontational individuals, Dover Police said there were no reported injuries to any individual at the time of their arrests during the protest, and despite some individuals resisting arrest, "no Dover Police officer actually used pepper spray, gas, batons, Tasers or any other tool or instrument to make arrests."

Police addressed the detainment and arrest of Lamar as such: 

"An individual, later identified as a member of the Dover Post, was detained during the arrest process. The male subject is seen on drone footage (see released video) on the left side of the video. At the beginning of the video, the subject is seen putting on a press credential lanyard that contains what is believed to be a 3”x4” card that had not been worn by the subject prior to this incident. The subject is not wearing any other identifying items. The subject is then observed rummaging through his backpack. A Dover Police Officer observes the subject and engages him not knowing he is a journalist, nor the contents of the backpack he was digging in. The officer believed this to be public and officer safety concern in that moment. The subject was utilizing a cell phone to record at the time, as were several other demonstrators that were involved. As the officer approaches, the subject stands up and the officer secured the individual with the assistance of other officers. Once the subject was secured, he was immediately sat up by officers and placed in a patrol vehicle a short time later. Once all of the arrested subjects were transported to Delaware State Police Troop 3, it was confirmed that the subject was a media member and he was released by the Delaware State Police without charges."

Lamar can be heard repeatedly identifying himself as a member of the press as he's tackled to the ground in his own video. Prior to his arrest, he videoed the arrest of several protests, and questioned why.

"They slammed them down to the ground, there are people lying down on the ground right now, we don't know. Why are people being arrested? Officer, why are people being arrested right now?"

As Lamar is detained some kind of struggle ensues, and he's heard saying he can't breathe.

Prior to his arrest, he was videoing the arrest of several protests and questioning why.

"They slammed them down to the ground, there are people lying down on the ground right now, we don't know. Why are people being arrested? Officer, why are people being arrested right now?"

As Lamar is detained some kind of struggle ensues, and he's heard saying he can't breathe. On the two-minute video, troopers can be heard telling Lamar to relax, "get a breath" and "you've got to listen to us."

"You've got no help here, OK, the best thing you can do is just be quiet," one of the officers said.

Delaware arrested 22 people during the incident for intentionally violating the following sections of Delaware Code: 

  • The protestors engaged in threatening behavior,
  • The protestors obstructed vehicular traffic, and
  • The protestors congregated with other persons in a public place and refused to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse.

Twenty of the 22 people arrested during the incident were charged, according to Delaware State Police: 

  • Disorderly Conduct when Refusal to Disperse (All 20 Individuals)
  • Disorderly Conduct by Obstructing Vehicular Traffic (All 20 Individuals)
  • Disorderly Conduct by Obstructing Pedestrian Traffic (All 20 Individuals)
  • Disorderly Conduct by Fighting or Violent Tumultuous or Threatening Behavior (All 20 Individuals)
  • Resisting Arrest (4 Individuals)
  • Hindering Prosecution Prevent or Obstructs by Force (3 Individuals)