“Are you going to post about this?” Charles Belk’s best friend asked. Uncertain, he sat in darkness, unable to sleep before writing a ten paragraph post that would be shared over 40,000 times received 35,000 likes and 10,000 comments.
Media outlets picked it up and Charles shared his story. Unaware that his journey with the law was just beginning. News of something else would lead him on a journey across America, from handcuffs to M.A.D. – Making A Difference!”
“I did the interviews because I SURVIVED to tell my story.”
Some like Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant and Eric Garner to name just a few, never had that opportunity. And while we would all love to hear their stories, and sadly never will, what about those who have been wrongfully jailed, accused for crimes they didn’t commit, but “didn’t have the resources to get the attention to tell their story? I wanted to give them a voice.”
As he shared his arrest story with the media, he soon learned something more troubling related to his arrest. A week later, Withdrawn and tired, “I was ready to move on and get back to normal. So that Saturday, I went to the USC football game.”
The next day, a message from a friend startled him.
“He asked if I had seen the LAPD’s website. When I went to the site, I was freaked me out because when I was released, they handed me a piece of paper that said, I was detained not arrested.”
On the site, he found his name, address, height and weight listed and that he was held on a $100,000 bond for felony armed bank robbery!”
His friends were livid, “people flooded the police department with calls and emails. The department called me to come in.”
He was told, the normal procedure takes months to remove. For a crime he didn’t commit? “A felony arrest can impact your ability to get a loan, and employment.”
“I was told, that normally, you need a lawyer to present this to the agency that arrested you. The agency can approve or not approve it. Then a judge determines if your record should be erased. The process can take six months and cost five thousand dollars. Thanks to my social media friends’ calls, when I arrived, officers had the form filled out and the sheriff was prepared to expedite it. They even had an officer ready to walk it to a judge.
How many others encounter similar situations? What he learned from a Washington insider is Congress has typically left criminal justice to the states. So Charles set on a journey that doesn’t get the fanfare it deserves. He has taken off the handcuffs and traveling the country to M.A.D.
Find out what Charles is doing now around the country in the Final Chapter……#AutoErase
Charles Belk is President/Producer at I Will Make You A Star Productions and Adjucnt Professor Pierce College. He is the founder of the organization and executive director of Fitting The Description.
Atiba Madyun is President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm in Washington, DC and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP). Follow him on Twitter @atibamadyun or Like Atiba Madyun on Facebook.