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Drug Arrest in Boynton Beach Sparks Racial Unrest

After arresting a young black man last night in Sara Sims Park, two white Boynton Beach Police officers faced down an angry crowd threatening violence.

According to the incident report, officers were patrolling the park based on its history of drug-related crimes. Around 7 last night, they say they saw a young man reverse his direction as he approached them, then throw plastic bags out of his pocket as he walked away. In doing so, the young man, Michael Taylor, 17, bumped into officer James Cooney. Says the report: "Taylor immediately uttered, "It's not mine, Cooney."

But the other cops had witnessed Taylor's having tossed nine bags of marijuana. As officers walked Taylor to a police vehicle, however, they were approached by an 18-year-old named Joshua Kelley and several others. From the incident report:

Kelley was yelling numerous expletives at both officers, continuing to approach them.

Cooney, who authored the incident report, noted here that there were some 100 people in the park and the surrounding area. He wrote:

The crowd was also yelling loudly and closing in on officers. Kelley was still screaming obscenities. Kelley was then approximately five feet from officers (Connor) Haugh and (Jeffrey) Williams when he was advised again to leave the area or be placed under arrest. Kelley then stated, 'Fuck you, I'll beat your asses, you white motherfuckers' and then took several more steps toward Haugh and Williams.
Fearing violence, the officers let go of their suspect, Taylor, and moved to arrest Kelley. That caused Kelley to go running, according to the report. He was caught, then arrested and charged with two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer.

But while the two officers were arresting Kelley, another member of the crowd allegedly began to harass them: Barkavius McCray, a 19-year-old who according to police said "fuck these crackers" as the cops were handcuffing Kelley.

One of those officers, Haugh, said that when he stood up after cuffing Kelley, McCray took a swing at him but missed. Then Haugh slugged McCray in the face. After being dazed, he also made a run for it, but Haugh and the officers chased him down. The altercation left McCray with a swollen eye. Haugh broke his hand.

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Thomas Francis

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