Philadelphia LGBTQ leaders arrested in traffic stop the mayor calls ‘concerning’

PHILADELPHIA — The arrest of two LGBTQ leaders in Philadelphia by a police officer during a busy highway traffic stop is “very concerning,” the city’s mayor said after a video showing what happened circulated on social media.

Celena Morrison heads the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs and is a top aide to Mayor Cherelle Parker. Morrison’s husband, Darius McLean, runs a community center. Both are black, while the Pennsylvania state trooper appears to be white.

“I don’t know why he’s doing this,” McLean shouts to his wife Saturday morning as she films him lying handcuffed on his side on the shoulder of the elevated highway during a rainstorm. Cars pass a few meters away.

“It’s because I’m black,” McLean says.

“It’s not because you’re black,” replies the officer, who leaves McLean handcuffed on the highway’s shoulder and then proceeds to arrest Morrison.

“Turn around! Give me your hands or you’ll get a bag!” the trooper tells her, saying she works for the mayor. Apparently at that moment she drops the phone, and the video only shows the gray sky above.

Both Morrison, 51, and McLean, 35, were arrested on obstruction and resisting arrest charges after the 9 a.m. traffic stop. However, District Attorney Larry Krasner did not immediately file charges while he investigated.

“A video circulating on social media depicting part of the incident is of great concern to me,” the mayor said in a statement, adding that she will wait until the investigation is complete before she can say more.

State police, which patrol the state highway that runs through the city, declined to identify the officer but said he was on restrictive duty Monday and will not patrol while the incident is investigated. The trooper patrol unit does not yet have body cameras and the department declined to release dashboard camera video.

In the cellphone video posted online, the officer says he pulled Morrison over for tailgating and not having his lights on. McLean, chief operating officer of the William Way LGBT Community Center, apparently pulled up in a second vehicle and was arrested after allegedly arguing with the officer.

‘Do you want to be tased? Put your hands behind your back!” the officer shouts as he stands over him in the roadway.

“They are! They are!” McLean cries.

“I don’t know who you are, so I don’t need anyone watching me,” the officer says.

“That’s my man… That’s my man, please,” Morrison is heard saying from out of sight. “I work for the mayor. I work for the mayor.”

Morrison, who is transgender, has held the position since 2020 and stayed on when Parker took office in January.

Chris Bartlett, executive director of the William Way Center, called the traffic stop “unjust” in a post on the group’s social media site and said the center was “working with officials to remedy this terrible situation.”