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City hall protestors decry treatment of young black males



Published: Thu, July 19, 2012 @ 6:57 p.m.

City hall protestors decry treatment of young black males

YOUNGSTOWN

Desiree Johnson and about two dozen supporters held protest signs and walked outside city hall in protest of the treatment of young black males like her son, and the harassment she says her family has faced from Youngstown police.

Johnson, 45, and her friend Doretha Weston, 35, will be sentenced Friday on misdemeanor charges of obstructing official business, assault on an officer and resisting arrest following an altercation with police during a 2011 traffic stop.

Johnson said the issue with police began before that 2011 traffic stop. She said the protest is centered around police treatment of her 15-year-old son Benjamin “Benji” Roberts, who was stopped at gunpoint by police in 2009 when he was 12. The officers who stopped Johnson and Weston are the same officers who earlier stopped her son.

Johnson has sued the city over the issue involving her son. That matter is still in court.

Johnson in 2009 said Benji had gone down the street from their home to play basketball, but she realized he had not cleaned up his bedroom and had his sister go down the street and get him so he could finish his chores.

Benji, accompanied by the family’s large mixed-breed dog, Lucky, ran home at his mother’s request. He was met in the rear of the home by several police officers with their guns drawn.

Police said officers were in the area investigating alleged drug sales by minors. They also said the unleashed dog gave officers reason to fear for their safety.

Benji was not found to have done anything wrong.

Read more in Friday’s Vindicator


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