Alameda: DA will not press charges against police, black man arrested for dancing in the street

Alameda police officers arresting Mali Watkins on May 23.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley will not press charges against a Alameda man who was arrested in May while exercising and dancing in the street. Mali Watkins, a black man and resident of Alameda, was charged for resisting arrest on May 23.

Alameda beatO’Malley also found the two arresting Alameda police officers at the scene did not have sufficient probable cause to detain Watkins and failed to follow protocols for engagement.

The finding were included a letter from O’Malley to the City of Alameda released to the public on Thursday.

No charges were filed by the DA’s office against the two Alameda police officers, but additional training for detaining, issuing citations, and arrests was recommended by O’Malley.

Watkins was arrested last May after police received a 911 call describing a man walking and dancing in the middle of the street. When police arrived, Watkins reacted strongly to their presence and said he was practicing martial arts choreography.

Watkins was known to neighbors for exercising in the street, including one woman, shown in a video of the incident, telling police that Watkins lives in the neighborhood.

Although under the radar for nearly two weeks, video of the incident went viral on various social media platforms in Alameda. Amid protests over the death of George Floyd occurring at the same time, video of the arrest sparked outrage and derision toward the Alameda Police Department.

Alameda dancing protest
Protesters in front of the Alameda Police Department on June 7.

A protest and rally against Alameda Police was later staged in which demonstrators were encouraged to bring music and dance in the streets.

The City of Alameda is currently conducting an independent investigation into the handling of the arrest.