BLACK VOICES

Black Professor Speaks Out About Being Racially Profiled Near Campus

"A lot of my life has been organized around avoiding interactions with the police."

Steve Locke, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, was left shaken after he was racially profiled by the police last week during his lunch break. 

Locke, who wrote about his experience on his blog, recounted to HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski on Wednesday that on his way to get a burrito near campus, he noticed a police car following him. 

"The policeman got out of the car, said, 'Hey, my man,'" Locke said. "He had his hand on his weapon, so I automatically knew that something had happened and he wasn't coming to talk to me as a citizen. He was coming to talk to me as a suspect."

Wearing his faculty ID around his neck, Locke immediately took his hands out of his pockets while the officer questioned him. The professor made it clear he was on his lunch break, but the officer -- along with others who had showed up to the scene -- detained Locke, telling him he matched the description of a suspected robber in the area. 

"It was at this moment that I knew that I was probably going to die," Locke wrote on his blog. "I am not being dramatic when I say this. I was not going to get into a police car.  I was not going to present myself to some victim.  I was not going let someone tell the cops that I was not guilty when I already told them that I had nothing to do with any robbery."

Locke calmly stood still on the street corner alongside the police before being let go, sent away with apologies from the police for "screwing up your lunch break," he wrote. But the experience recalled a lifetime of awareness about police profiling and violence. 

"I am 52 years old. I grew up in Detroit, Michigan," he explained to HuffPost Live. "A lot of my life has been organized around avoiding interactions with the police, but whenever I encounter the police, I understand that I'm encountering them differently than other citizens."

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