The Prince George’s County Police Department in Maryland has provided documents to Politic365 indicating they were looking for someone at a residence believed to be that of prominent Civil Rights attorney Barbara Arnwine.
Among the documents provided: arrest and search warrants for a residence in Prince George’s County believed to be Arnwine’s.
Arnwine is the Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Last week she claimed that police presented no warrant on Nov. 21 when they searched her home for over two hours. Arnwine’s attorney told Politic365 on Monday that police threatened to kill members of Arnwine’s family during that raid.
Though her attorney confirms a police action occurred at her home there is no indication she is the subject of an investigation. Instead, information provided by the Prince George’s County Police Department indicates the authorities were looking for items related to someone residing in Arnwine’s home who is a suspect in an armed robbery that took place on Nov. 4.
Arnwine, a prominent figure in the Black political and legal community, complained vigorously about police misconduct on WHUR-FM Radio in Washington D.C., Rev. Al Sharpton’s nationally syndicated show Keepin’ It Real, and on WPFW-FM during an interview with news anchor Askia Muhammad last week.
On all three programs she stated her home was entered on the morning of Nov. 21 by a SWAT team and other members of the Prince George’s County Police Department. She spoke strongly that behavior by county police was “outrageous” and “unprofessional.” She also stated on Sharpton’s show that police presented no warrant at her home on Nov. 21.
Audio of Arnwine speaking with WPFW’s Askia Muhammad quotes her as saying she believed police “had the wrong house.”
Documents from the Prince George’s County Police Department indicate that law enforcement personnel were at the correct location looking for evidence. Arnwine has not done an interview since late last week. She declined an interview request yesterday with SIRIUS XM veteran radio journalist George Wilson.
Information provided by the Prince George’s County Police Department indicates the authorities were looking for items related to someone residing in Arnwine’s home who is a suspect in an armed robbery on Nov. 4. During an interview last Wednesday with Rev. Sharpton on his radio show Keepin’ It Real, Arnwine mentioned the surnames of “Turner” and “Ford” as she described how police asked for the names of those present in her home.
Documents provided to Politic365 by the Prince George’s County Police Department name a man called “Curtis Lamar Ford.” Ford can be seen here on the Prince George’s County Police Department’s blog. A press release from police confirms Ford’s arrest as a suspect in a robbery in Mitchellville on Nov. 4 at a Popeye’s restaurant where he was formally employed.
Though no calls seeking clarification were returned from Arnwine’s office, Politic365 has been informed by sources close to the situation that “Curtis Lamar Ford” is a nephew of Arnwine’s.
During an interview yesterday with Arnwine’s attorney, heavyweight personal injury lawyer Willie E. Gary, he did not confirm or deny that Arnwine’s nephew was arrested on Friday, Nov. 26. Gary confirmed Ford was present at Arnwine’s home when approximately 15 members of the Prince George’s County police force entered and searched the residence at 5 a.m. on Nov. 21.
Gary, a multi-millionaire legal powerhouse, has won some of the largest settlements and jury awards in U.S. history. He was named one of the top 50 attorney’s in America by Forbes magazine.
Gary said no arrest was made Nov. 21, saying, “he [Ford] was there and they did not arrest him — I can’t understand it.” The Prince George’s County Police provided documents indicating that specific evidentiary items were collected from Arnwine’s home on Nov. 21 pertaining to Ford.
Not wanting to speak directly to Ford’s situation, Arnwine’s attorney spoke on the conduct of members of the Prince George’s County Police towards his client and others on Nov. 21.
“I think the issue here is their conduct towards Barbara, her mother and others. They falsely imprisoned them, they invaded their privacy and they threatened to kill them. I just don’t see the connection with them executing a search warrant to do that. Their conduct was despicable. It was uncalled for, unnecessary and it violated constitutional rights all over the place,” Gary said. Gary said police knocked loudly on the door on the morning of Nov. 21 and that Arnwine answered and let them in.
“Even in the process of executing a search warrant there is a manner and a way that things should have been conducted. They should not have had to put my client in jail — figuratively speaking,” Gary said. “What I’m saying is that without a warrant they locked her up — they jailed her — she was falsely imprisoned and they violated her right to privacy in a major way. They did the same to her 80 year-old grandmother who was in her nightclothes,” the veteran attorney said.
When asked if members of Arnwine’s family were handcuffed on Nov. 21, Gary said no. He then responded: “[T]hey weren’t handcuffed but they were held at gunpoint — guns, rifles in their faces. They were threatened one time after another and told, ‘get back over there! Stay where you are! Get in this room or we’ll kill you!”
Gary said members of the Prince George’s County Police were in Arnwine’s home for three hours. Gary would not directly comment on the arrest of the man present at the raid believed to be Arnwine’s nephew saying, “I’m not in a position to comment.” He responded generally by saying, “I don’t have a beef with them carrying out their legal obligations,” but that in 36 years of practicing law, “this is the worst that I’ve ever seen.”
Law enforcement officers are trained to secure an unfamiliar scene for their safety. A 2010 Baltimore Sun story stated that “heavily armed tactical police in Prince George’s County raid more homes than any other law enforcement agency in the state,” according to a report by the Governor.
Prince George’s County has had 26 line of duty deaths over 74 years (since 1937) and 5 since 2000. The last line of duty death in PG County was in March of 2010. A total of 143 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty in the U.S. in 2011.
Though there were plans for a press event last week on the matter, the Director of Communications at Arnwine’s office at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law responded in an e-mail that, “the Lawyers’ Committee is not planning a press conference at this time.” Arnwine’s attorney indicated there could be a press event in the near future.
Barbara Arnwine is a prominent leader against Voter ID laws and voter suppression efforts. She has appeared at several events with members of Congress on the issue. Two weeks ago, Arwine testified at a voter suppression summit before House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).
A call and an e-mail to Rev. Al Sharpton’s communications director, Rachel Noerdlinger was acknowledged – but Rev. Sharpton did not directly comment on the matter. A call and an e-mail to the office of Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. at Operation PUSH in Chicago was not returned.
Whether Arnwine was aware of any of the information provided by the Prince George’s County Police Department is unknown. Whether “Curtis Lamar Ford” is a permanent resident of Arnwine’s home is unknown. Two calls made to the communications director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law went unanswered. A call to the NAACP director of communications in Washington, D.C. indicated no press event on the matter is planned.