When police at the Orlando International Airport arrested a white man for behaving erratically, he complained that his rough treatment was akin to how black people are treated by law enforcement.
WESH-TV, a local NBC affiliate in Orlando, reported that 59-year-old doctor Jeffrey Epstein of Lakeland, Florida (no relation to the wealthy investor and registered sex offender) was being “unruly” at the American Airlines ticket counter at approximately 6 AM Thursday morning. When airport police arrived, Epstein taunted them, daring them to arrest him.
However, once officers started handcuffing Epstein, he raised his voice and started resisting, prompting officers to tackle him to the ground.
“Don’t beat me up!” Epstein is heard saying in a video tweeted by Intercept columnist Shaun King. “Oh my God, I can’t believe they’re doing this! Look what they’re doing!”
“You’re treating me like a fucking black person!” Epstein added, before airport officers reportedly pepper-sprayed him.
Watch this and wait for the punchline. He said, in shock and desperation “You’re treating me like a fucking Black person.”
Think on that for a moment. With all of this going on, that’s what came to his mind. Police brutality, to him, is something reserved for Black folk. pic.twitter.com/3Wp1bzJPSN
— Shaun King (@shaunking) August 17, 2018
In an interview with WESH after his release from jail, Epstein said his stunt was apparently done “to prove a point” as a means of exposing police brutality. He also was apparently upset at how American Airlines staff treated him at the airport counter.
“If you’re going to do this to a white doctor, who’s 59-years-old, for doing nothing, then why would black people trust you?” Epstein told reporters. “I’m a conservative Republican, I’m a Trump guy. But until the police fix this problem, I don’t blame black people for being upset when they get arrested.”
Epstein’s point, however, still glosses over the fact that black people have been shot and killed by American police over far less. In 2016, Minnesota man Philando Castile was killed within 62 seconds of being stopped by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez over a broken taillight. Castile never once raised his voice or dared Yanez to take him into custody. More recently, Sacramento police officers fired 20 shots at 22-year-old Stephon Clark, who was in his grandmother’s backyard with nothing but a cellphone.
Epstein was booked on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence, and trespassing after warning, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.