Landon Kinchelow figured he would have no problem posting flyers in Wynwood for his upcoming hip-hop show in the arts-and-entertainment district north of Overtown. The neighborhood, after all, is covered in street art and come-ons for nightlife events. But this past Thursday, when he attempted to post an announcement of his show the following night on a wall across from Coyo Taco, an officer with the Miami Police Department (MPD) rolled up in his cruiser and promptly arrested the 24-year-old musician.
Because the incident occurred smack in the middle of Wynwood, numerous onlookers were on hand to whip out their phones and capture the moment for posterity. In a video now going viral online, Kinchelow — who performs under the name Geovonniex — repeatedly asks the officer why he's being detained and what he did to warrant such a harsh response.
The footage begins as an MPD officer asks Kinchelow for ID and Kinchelow says he doesn't have it on him because he's posting flyers around town. The officer says he asked Kinchelow to remove the flyers. Kinchelow repeatedly says he complied, but the cop continues questioning him. Kinchelow attempts to leave, whereupon the officer presses him up against a wall and handcuffs him.
"You're being very aggressive. Turn around," the cop says.
"You're being aggressive!" Kinchelow retorts. "What am I being detained for?"
Eventually, other officers arrive, blocking off virtually the entire intersection of NW Second Avenue and NW 24th Street.
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#FREEGEOX Yesterday I got arrested unlawfully for putting up flyer to ensure that the show TONIGHT will be a SUCCESS. Not to mention that I had others with me putting up flyers and wynwood is known for artistic expression and promotion. I felt because of my skin color I was singled out. But even tho I spent 12 hours in jail THE SHOW MUST GO ON! SEE YOU TONIGHT!
Spokespeople for the Miami Police Department did not immediately respond to New Times' requests for comment.
Reached by phone, Kinchelow explains that he'd been posting flyers at Miami-Dade College's Wolfson campus and speaking to students earlier that day to promote the show, which was set for Friday night at the Spot Wynwood on NW Seventh Avenue. He says he debated going to the University of Miami campus but figured he'd get more bang for his flyering buck in Wynwood.
"I'm very good friends with the owners of the stores there," Kinchelow tells New Times. "I always get permission before I put up flyers on someone's store. And anywhere else in the neighborhood is just a wall. I figured since Wynwood is known for artist expression, it was a perfect place for us to be. We had a whole team of us, maybe eight people."
Kinchelow says that while he was tacking a flyer to a wall on NW 24th Street, an MPD cop drove up and used the cruiser's loudspeaker to order him to take it down. The hip-hop artist says that by the time he removed the piece of paper, the officer was standing behind him and wouldn't let him leave.
"He continued to ask me for my ID, but I said I didn’t bring my wallet out of the car since I don’t need my wallet when I'm putting up flyers," Kinchelow recounts. "At one point he asked me, 'Do you own this building?' I thought it was a rhetorical question, so I didn't answer. But I think me not answering upset him more. So then he tried to turn me around — but he's not strong at all — and I just kept asking him to take his hands off me and saying I could turn around myself."
Over the course of the five-minute video clip, the officers never tell Kinchelow the reason he's being detained. In the end, they push him into the back of a cruiser and drive him away.
"I asked if they were going to read me my rights, and the officer driving said, 'You guys watch too much TV,'" Kinchelow says, adding that one of the cops said he frequently saw Kinchelow in Wynwood, "usually happy and dancing."
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He says he wound up being charged with criminal mischief and resisting an officer without violence and had to post a $1,000 bond. He didn't get home till 6 a.m. the day of his show.
"I'm more upset about the force than anything else," Kinchelow says. "The officer was like stuttering and shaking. He was scared. I don’t know why he was scared, but he could barely get on the cuffs. But jail is a process I don't wish on anybody. It's really cold, and it's a lot of waiting."
Kinchelow says he's considering taking legal action against the police department.
"I've never even so much as had a ticket, and my first time in jail was for promoting my own show," he says.