5 days ago
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
UNACCEPTABLE BIAS AND BIGOTRY
I really appreciate that the diversity is significantly improved from when I grew up in this area and I know that my children have benefited from it, and we have all learned so much from living and going to school with many different kinds of people.
However, not everyone in our communities feel as I do. I especially see it when it comes to the local police departments. I am not sure why it is: there is just some sort of institutionalized and accepted prejudice against people with darker skin or if there is some sort of statistical support for the "special attention" that is directed at those non-white populations but it is obvious to me that there is something going on.
Everyday I see white people speeding, talking on their cell phones while driving, breaking traffic laws right and left. When I glance over at a vehicle pulled over by an officer it is almost always a person of color. Truly. I have lived here for over 10 years and I rarely see anyone who is Caucasian pulled over. When I worked in the hotel one of the few black people staying as a guest told me he was pulled over down the block. This was a businessman dressed in a suit in a rental car. He has no idea of exactly why he was pulled over but the officer said "he thought he was using a cell phone."
The reason I am going into all this is because MC Hammer, a local resident and well known rapper and musician was a frequent guest of the hotel. He is a sweet, mild man who likes to go to the movies late at night and stay over in our hotel with his wife of many years. Last weekend he was parked in the lot outside the movie theater, alone, when a police officer came up and tapped on his car window. The first thing the officer asked him was if he was on parole. His account was that he laughed and said no but the officer escalated the encounter to the point of an arrest because he was not the owner of the car he was in.
As you can imagine, it was big news in the area that MC Hammer was jailed overnight for "resisting arrest" and "interfering with the duties of an officer." The police department would never comment on the specifics of the charges and today all charges were dropped. It is very clear that the encounter and the arrest were based on a black man sitting in a car in a white community and it is shameful.
Just to put a point on it, a white physician was arrested for spousal abuse and battery the same week and it never even made the local news.