Investigation underway after video shows police arresting black man who was seen dancing in Bay Area street

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A black man dancing in the street of a Northern California city was pinned to the ground and placed under arrest by police after officers were called to the scene, newly-released officer bodycam video shows.

The incident in Alameda has prompted the city’s police chief to request an independent investigation into the officers’ actions. The May 23 arrest occurred after police received a call from a woman who said “an African-American man is dancing in the street and clearly something is wrong with him.”

A series of bodycam videos released on Saturday shows police officers approach the man, identified as Mali Watkins, as he stood next to a sidewalk in a street. Officers question the man, who says he had been dancing as a form of exercise, and as he tries to walk away, police grab his wrists, push him to the ground and handcuff him. He implores a witness, a woman across the street, to record the incident.

He repeatedly asks police why they are touching him and refusing to let him go. Police tell him he is resisting arrest.

City of Alameda spokesperson Sarah Henry said Watkins, who is a city resident, was arrested and cited for resisting arrest. She would not say if the officers have been placed on leave or faced any disciplinary action, citing department policy not to release such information.

Watkins could not be reached for comment. The Alameda District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.

The incident appears to the latest example of black people in the US having the police called on them for routine activities such as operating a lemonade store, golfing too slowly, or birding.

It was condemned by the city’s vice mayor, who called for an independent investigation into the incident.

“I am outraged and I am sad and I am committed to ensuring that there is a full, independent investigation and that there is accountability for those involved, including those who created a system that allowed this to happen,” Alameda Vice Mayor John Knox White said in a statement.

City manager Eric Levitt questioned the actions of the officers and also called for an investigation.

“I am interested in moving the Department in a positive direction. At this time, I do not know the reasons why the initial officers approached the call the way they did. I am hopeful that an investigation will provide better understanding to that question. I have spoken with the POA President and understand that he shares my interest in having the Department work with the community in addressing concerns brought forward by the community.”

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