Celena Morrison Speaks Out After Harrowing Traffic Stop Incident

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

On a rain-soaked Saturday morning, Celena Morrison-McLean, the Executive Director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, and her husband, Darius McLean, experienced a traumatic encounter with the Pennsylvania State Police that has ignited widespread outrage and calls for justice. The incident, which occurred on Interstate 76, involved an aggressive traffic stop that both Morrison-McLean and her attorneys claim was unnecessary and racially motivated.

According to the couple’s attorney, Kevin Mincey, the ordeal began when Morrison-McLean was driving to a mechanic. She was following a state trooper’s vehicle at a safe distance when the trooper suddenly stopped, causing Morrison-McLean to switch lanes. The trooper then pulled her over, citing reasons such as tailgating and not having her headlights on, which Morrison-McLean’s legal team disputes. McLean, who was following his wife in a separate vehicle, stopped to ensure her safety. The situation quickly escalated when the trooper, with his gun drawn, aggressively approached McLean’s car. Despite McLean’s compliance—having his hands up and explaining he was following his wife—the trooper forcibly handcuffed him and left him lying on the wet highway shoulder. Morrison-McLean, fearing for her husband’s safety, began recording the incident on her phone. The recording captured the trooper charging at her, knocking the phone from her hand, and ending the video. Both Morrison-McLean and McLean were detained for approximately 12 hours before being released without charges, though the investigation by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is ongoing.

In the aftermath, Morrison-McLean has been vocal about the traumatic experience, emphasizing the broader implications for marginalized communities. At a press conference, she described her fear and helplessness, recounting how she identified herself as a city official to the trooper, hoping to de-escalate the situation.

"I yelled out to the officer, ‘I work for the mayor,’ multiple times, hoping that would make him realize he was dealing with people he should not be afraid of."
Celena Morrison-McLean
Executive Director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs.

Her husband, Darius McLean, echoed these sentiments, sharing his haunting memories of the incident. “The images of him pointing his gun at me and later charging at my wife—tackling her—as I lay handcuffed in the street are pictures that I never forget,” he stated. The couple’s legal team has demanded an apology and called for significant reforms in police training and accountability.

The incident has prompted calls for transparency and justice. Mayor Cherelle Parker described the cellphone footage as “very concerning” and has expressed support for a thorough investigation. The state trooper involved, who was not wearing a body camera, has been placed on restricted duty pending the investigation. Kevin Mincey, the couple’s attorney, has been particularly critical of the trooper’s actions and the training that led to such an aggressive approach. “What is it about the training that he’s receiving that makes him think that that is an OK way to treat civilians that he is sworn to protect and serve?” Mincey questioned. He also highlighted the lack of justification for the stop, noting that the trooper could not have run Morrison-McLean’s plates before pulling her over due to the absence of a front license plate on her vehicle.

This incident has resonated deeply within the Philadelphia community, particularly among Black and LGBTQ+ residents who see it as a stark reminder of the systemic issues of racial profiling and police brutality. Morrison-McLean’s role as a prominent LGBTQ+ leader has brought additional attention to the intersectionality of race, gender, and sexual orientation in the context of law enforcement interactions. The couple’s experience has galvanized community leaders and activists to push for policy changes and greater oversight of police practices. There is a growing demand for body cameras on all officers and enhanced training focused on de-escalation and cultural competence to prevent such incidents in the future.

The distressing events faced by Celena Morrison-McLean and Darius McLean underscore the urgent need for systemic reform in policing. Their story is a powerful call to action for greater accountability, transparency, and respect for the rights of all individuals, regardless of race or gender identity. As the investigation continues, the voices of those affected must be heard, and meaningful changes implemented to ensure justice and equality for all.

Read Related Posts...

GOP Slashes funding for the William Way Center

The recent decision by a group of House Republicans to slash federal funding to LGBTQ organizations sent shock waves through the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. Among those targeted were two Pennsylvania centers of communal refuge: The William Way Community Center and the LGBT Center of Greater Reading. This act, widely criticized as a blatant act…

Read more

Andy Borowitz discusses his book Profiles in Ignorance at the McCarter

With his signature wit and insight, comedian and New Yorker magazine satirist Andy Borowitz delved into questions such as Why have American politics deteriorated intellectually over the last 50 years? How have the mass media encouraged the election of ignorant leaders? And how can we change course? He discussed his New York Times/Washington Post/Wall Street Journal bestseller, Profiles in Ignorance: How America’s Politicians Got Dumb…

Read more