The scene at Euclid and E. 24th.
Details of yesterday's pepper spraying incident are still adhering very closely to partisan narratives, but the video below does indeed show a GCRTA officer issuing a "general burst" of pepper spray into a crowd of activists who had formed around his cruiser after transit police took a 14-year-old boy into custody.
RTA, in a statement Monday night, claimed that the officers "peacefully removed a intoxicated 14-year old male [sic] from a bus," and that the teenager was so intoxicated that he was "unable to care for himself."
Activists, who were attending the Movement for Black Lives weekend conference at Cleveland State University, claimed on Twitter that an arrest had been made because the 14-year-old didn't have a bus ticket and that the transit officers "body slammed" him to to the ground.
RTA claims that the 14-year-old was examined by EMS at the scene — Euclid and E. 24th — and that he was released to his mother at 5:47 p.m. (at which release the crowds cheered). The press release says that the incident is now under investigation. Spokespeople have not yet replied to Scene's
requests for further details.
One detail that should be promptly cleared up is the name of the officer in the video below. His name has not yet been released; however, he was misidentified by activists as GCRTA officer Sean O'Neil. The real O'Neil issued a statement
on LinkedIn Tuesday saying that, as a night shift employee, he was neither the officer who pepper sprayed the crowd nor was he even there.
"You can imagine my surprise when I started receiving calls for work about being targeted by Anonymous and that my name was being thrown all around the Twitterverse and other social media sites," he wrote. He said he has disabled many of his online accounts, and that things are already "settling down."
Councilman Zack Reed issued a statement urging transparency in the ensuring GCRTA investigation and said that any use of force against individuals exercising their constitutional rights was "very concerning." Reed's colleague Jeff Johnson was even more critical on Twitter, saying that the pepper spray incident was "UNACCEPTABLE," and that he would personally seek removal of the officer and a full investigation.
We'll update as we find out more, but here's the video if you haven't seen it.