YouTube video sparks police controversy

WEST PHILADELPHIA - September 17, 2010

Police say before the video picks up that 29-year-old Askia Sabur had just knocked a police officer to the ground, but protesters Friday night painted a very different picture, one of undeserved brutality at the hands of police.

In the two and a half minute YouTube video, you can hear the shouts and see police wielding batons as they try to restrain Sabur back on September 3rd.

During the course of the video, you hear Sabur yelling he didn't do anything.

At one point, an officer takes his gun from the holster. What led up to this arrest depends on who you ask.

By all accounts, Sabur and his friends were outside a Chinese restaurant waiting for food when police told them to clear the sidewalk.

Police say Sabur refused and became confrontational, leveled a police officer, and tried to grab his gun; that is an account the protesters aren't buying.

Waving signs and flags and shouting chants over a megaphone, 150 people rallied in protest of Sabur's treatment, arguing that police used excessive force.

"You've seen a thousand videos like this, that's the tragedy of it, it's not even unusual, it's absolute colonial brutality against the black community," Alison Hoehne of West Philadelphia said.

Protesters first gathered on Lansdowne Avenue and Allison Street where the incident occurred. From there they marched to the 19th District where the group read from a list of demands calling for charges against the police department.

Protesters also want the names of the officers involved released.

"There's still more truth to be exposed because those 6 people who were present at the time of this vicious attack on Askia are still being shielded," family spokesperson Will Mega said.

Police were prepared for the planned rally and were there to ensure safety of all involved.

"[They were] very, very peaceful, very, very orderly, I appreciate that," Philadelphia Police Captain Melvin Singleton said.

The protesters are giving police 7 days to meet with their list of demands before protesting again.

Sabur has a court date on Monday and many who came out tonight will be there Monday as a show of solidarity.

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