Shaquille Dukes said he does not want monetary compensation for being wrongfully accused and arrested for stealing equipment from an Illinois hospital. He and civil rights attorney Ben Crump said they want this to never happen to anyone again. The incident, they both said, had everything to do with Dukes’ – who is African American – race.
“Shaquille Dukes’ crime was merely being in a hospital while Black,” Crump said.
Dukes, 24, had been hospitalized in June with double Pnuemonia. After a few days, he said he had been feeling well enough to take a walk and asked hospital staff if it was ok to do so. With an IV still attached to his arm, Dukes and two friends took a walk on hospital grounds when they were confronted by a security officer who asked if the patient was stealing hospital equipment to sell on ebay.
After an argument with the guard escalated, the three were eventually arrested for disorderly misconduct.
“What happened to Shaquille Dukes happens far too often in America,” said Crump during a press conference earlier this month.
“We refuse to ignore this case of blatant racial profiling. Mr. Dukes came to the hospital to get treatment, instead he left in handcuffs.”
The Reverend Jesse Jackson was also at the press conference, calling for a “national outcry” against the incident.
According to news reports from the Associated Press, an independent review showed the security officer was not inappropriate but “just doing his job”, “that he would have been negligent in his duties had he not stopped to inquire of Dukes about why he was outside.” Race played no role in the incident, the report said.
AP also reported that hospital staff is saying that they do not allow patients to take walks outside.
But Dukes said that statement is untrue. He was stopped he said, by an “over zealous, racist security guard.” When the officer called him over, Dukes told reporters that he raised his arm to show that the IV was attached to his arm and that he was a patient. He was not “blocks away from the hospital or carrying the pole in my arms”, he said.
“When he stopped us, he radioed the police and said he ‘had three black males attempting to steal hospital equipment’. I’m in a hospital gown with no clothes, with medicine pumping in my veins,” Dukes explained to reporters.
“So, I’m not sure how we posed a threat or were attempting to steal. I truly feel it was because [of our race] the situation escalated into something more than what it needed to be.”
Dukes also said he suffered an asthma attack while in custody. Crump said he is pushing for the charges of misconduct against Dukes to be dropped. Dukes said he was insulted when hospital personnel and police approached him about resolving the incident.
“They basically said they wanted to know what I ‘was proposing. What would be a victory for you,’” Dukes said.
Dukes said if they were suggesting that there was an amount of money that would make the incident go away, that they were “ignorant.”