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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- A cry for justice was the overwhelming message from community members at a town hall meeting held at Southern University of New Orleans on Tuesday night.

Many attending say they are angered by an incident last month in which two teens were the target of what some are now calling unwarranted police brutality.

'I look at this video and see brutal force being used against these young men with no reason at all,' said Hazel Newman, the mother of one of the teens.

Dozens listened as the mother of 17-year-old Sidney Newman spoke about an incident that happened in the 700 block of Conti on Feb. 10. Newman and a friend, 18-year-old Ferdinand Hunt, say they were waiting for Hunt's mother who was grabbing dinner nearby when the incident unfolded.

Surveillance video from a business captures the teens being approached and then pinned down by plain clothes law enforcement officers that included nine state troopers and one NOPD officer. The incident was broken up by Hunt's mother, who is also an NOPD officer, who returned to the scene.

'It is extremely saddening and devastating to know that my son and other young African-Americans in New Orleans have to have the same fear of the police in 2013 as they did in 1913,' said Newman.

State lawmakers, led by state Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, held a special hearing to call for a full investigation and an end to policies that encourage racial profiling. Also asked to testify was the NAACP of New Orleans and the ACLU of Louisiana.

'It sends a mixed message to young men. We're trying to explain to them in one breath that they're our most precious commodity, and then in another breath when something happens, we don't want to talk about it,' said State Senator JP Morrell.

'There's no sound there. I think we need to fill in that portion of the investigation and that will do it. Unfortunately none of us today -- you or I know exactly what happened,' said Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmondson about the surveillance video not having any audio to narrate the incident.

Edmondson fielded a flurry of questions, saying he called for an immediate investigation after the incident. Edmondson also stressed his Department does not tolerate misuse.

'A question that came out of this was racial profiling that here we have these state troopers that purposely and intently identified these two young males, black males that that they grabbed them. There were allegations that there were beatings. I certainly didn't see that on the tape,' Edmondson said.

State police say their investigation could take 60 to 90 days. According to Edmonson the troopers involved in this incident are still reporting to their regular jobs.

The NOPD says the officer involved in this case hasn't been reassigned. The police department says it didn't take part in Tuesday night's hearing because of its ongoing investigation.

Editor's Note: Eyewitness News made several attempts & put in official requests to obtain the surveillance video that is circulating on the web. The French Quarter business that captured the video told WWL-TV it could not release it.

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