On May 30, Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim were pulled from their car and arrested on live TV for defying a curfew that was put in place less than four hours earlier. Videos of the arrests show an officer open the passenger-side door armed with what appears to be a taser. As Pilgrim screams, officers pull her out of the car and force her onto the ground where her hands are cuffed together. Officers then appear to discharge a taser at Young before pulling him out of the car as well.
American author Shaun King posted a clip of the arrest on Instagram. That particular clip has been viewed over 1.5 million times, and countless others saw the arrest live on TV. According to a GoFundMe page to raise money for bail for the pair, Pilgrim and Young are students at Spelman College and Morehouse College, respectively, and were on their way home when police stopped their vehicle. The caption on King’s video reiterates that the pair were on their way home. A comment on the GoFundMe page claims that Pilgrim was released and is home with a family member while Young remains in custody at the Fulton County Jail until his hearing. The Source wrote that Young suffered an epileptic episode after he was tased, and he was taken to the hospital before he was processed at the jail. An early account claiming that there was a gun in the car has been retracted.
WSB-TV reported that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a curfew at 6:09 p.m. The City of Atlanta, GA twitter account issued a tweet informing residents about the curfew at 6:02 p.m. The curfew began less than three hours later, at 9 p.m. Young and Pilgrim were arrested on the air at 9:46 p.m., less than an hour after the curfew was put into effect and less than four hours after the curfew was announced.
The Arrests Have Prompted Outrage Amid Protests for the Killing of George Floyd
In a statement published on Twitter, the Spelman College Student Government Association wrote that it was “deeply disturbed at the excessive force that the Atlanta Police Department exercised against our Spelman sister, Taniyah Pilgrim, and Morehouse brother, Messiah Young.”
The Atlanta University Center Caribbean Student Association also commented on the arrest of Pilgrim and Young, adding that it is “disgusted and appalled by the behaviors and treatment from the Atlanta Police Department.” The message also encourages readers to “Keep fighting and keep using your voice.” According to WSB-TV, the Atlanta University Center began protesting Pilgrim and Young’s arrests at 3 p.m. and will gather in Centennial Park at 5 p.m.
NAACP President and Reverend James Woodall held a press conference at noon on Sunday to address the events of the weekend, including the arrest of Pilgrim and Young.
“We are deeply disturbed by the inaction that has come in the wake of the deaths of countless African- Americans in the state and are calling for swift and immediate action to resolve every single demand that we have outlined here. Two local college students were violently detained in a way that highlights the urgency for us to save Black lives,” said Woodall according to WSB-TV.