The “Very Concerning” Arrest of a Black Trans Philadelphia Official Is Being Investigated

A Pennsylvania state trooper has been placed on “restricted duty” after he threatened to use his taser on one of Philadelphia’s top LGBTQ+ officials during a traffic stop last weekend. The Philadelphia district attorney’s office is investigating the incident, NBC News reported.

Shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 2, the trooper, who has not yet been named, stopped Celena Morrison, the executive director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, as she was driving on I-76, according to local reports. When Morrison’s husband, Darius McLean, pulled up in his own car behind the traffic stop, the situation rapidly spiraled out of control, as seen in Morrison’s cell phone footage, which quickly circulated on social media in the aftermath of the incident.

The video begins with McLean already on the ground, shielding his face from the trooper with his arms, as Morrison shouts, “That’s my husband!” After the trooper appears to slap McLean’s hand away from his face, Morrison approaches the officer and her husband, yelling “I work for the mayor!” After handcuffing McLean, the trooper walks toward Morrison, ordering her to “turn around” before grabbing her and knocking the phone from her hands. The phone continues recording the sky as the trooper instructs her to “show me your hands or you’re getting tased.” Morrison can be heard saying “he just punched me” a few moments later.

Morrison and McLean were jailed for 12 hours following the stop, the Associated Press reported this week. In the video, the trooper can be heard saying he pulled Morrison over for allegedly tailgating, which she denies; the Pennsylvania State Police wrote in a press release that Morrison was stopped for “multiple Vehicle Code violations,” and is charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing justice, and resisting arrest. According to the couple’s lawyer, who spoke to the AP, the two were on their way to a mechanic to have Morrison’s vehicle repaired. State police placed the trooper on “restricted duty” this week, but have not commented further.

Responding to the incident on X, formerly Twitter, over the weekend, Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker called the video “very concerning” and officially identified Morrison as the person who was stopped. Parker wrote that she would have “no further comment until the investigation has been completed.” Rue Landau, Philadelphia’s first openly LGBTQ+ city councilor, called the video “alarming” and “deeply concerning” in a separate statement, decrying “excessive force from police” and vowing to seek transparency as the case moves forward.

Both Morrison and McLean are Black, and Morrison is a transgender woman. While Morrison has held her position in the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs since 2020, McLean works in the private sector as the chief operating officer of the William Way Community Center, which lost a $1 million federal earmark this week following a disinformation campaign from Chaya Raichik, who runs the anti-LGBTQ+ Libs of TikTok social media campaign. In a statement on Monday, William Way representatives confirmed that both Morrison and McLean were safe, and thanked members of the community for their help and support.

“We believe that actions by State Police from the Belmont Barracks this weekend can be seen as yet another example in the long institutional history of over-policing and disproportional outcomes against Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ people, particularly Black trans people,” representatives wrote, calling for “proper transparency and accountability regarding this traumatic traffic stop and arrest in the heart of our own city.”

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