Josiah Quarles tells story of abuse by police

Creator: Josiah Quarles | Date: 10/8/2020
Collection: Submitted narratives
Quarles acknowledges the difficult job of police officers and having had some good interactions with police. (0:35)

In one instance, he was let off with a warning after getting pulled over for an illegal U-turn. Then Quarles explains that he has had “multiple multiple multiple multiple experiences, more than I think most people could fathom in a lifetime, and a lot of them were not good.” (2:25)

Police drew guns on him three times. (2:40)
Quarles has never owned a gun or engaged in violence, but has been assualted, and even seeking aid for being assaulted, has been assaulted by police. (2:55)

Relates details of one story, leaving out names due to legal settlements and the like. (3:15) Went to Karamu theater for wife’s birthday and went to an art party afterwards. When he got home, the police violently assault him at his home. Tackled and maced. Officer knocked glasses off and resumed macing him while Quarles “screamed and yelled that I lived here.” (7:24) Officer tells him to “stop resisting” (7:29) Eventually out of pain and fear, Quarles swats at the pepper spray or mace. (8:00) “After that, well then they started beating on me. I wasn’t going to just lay there and just get beat on. So, we tussled. He dragged me with the aid of another officer away from my door and down my driveway. Apparently another officer entered the house and told my now-wife that she better be glad that they didn’t kill me. Then taken out into the middle of the street and stripped down, legs spread eagle. Searched. For what, I don’t know. Eventually I was put into the back of a cruiser. Before that ... about four other police cars that arrived on the scene. Guns drawn. Searched the house. Nothing there.... Charged with very serious charges. Really traumatized me.”

(9:32) Relates skepticism of role of the police and what it means to everyday people. Attuned to the idea that they are protecting and serving the state and the vested interests of the state, and those vested interests were necessarily mine. I knew that on an intellectual level. I had seen Amadou Diallo and [name?] and Sean Bell at that time had already occurred. So there was a certainly amount of radicalization that had already occurred. I’m a student of American History... But to have it visited on myself personally, it really deeply affected me. I mean, it’s trauma. I don’t know who I would be if that never happened to me. I don’t know. But it did. And I’ll never be the same. When I hear sirens or when I’m confronted with any police intereaction, my hands start shaking. I mean, that was not the last time. I’ve had several other experiences within several jurisdictions that were not cool. But that was probably the most outlandish situation. And that officer, he’s still an officer. When I was taken in I was telling all the officers my story, and one of the officers in booking said ‘he’s going to fuck it up for all of us.’”

(12:01) Implores officers trying to implore the law not to protect the officers who cross the line.
~ Josiah Quarles, “Josiah Quarles tells story of abuse by police,” A People's Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland, accessed December 5, 2023,
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