White Woman Experiences 'Walking While Black'

Over at the local D.C. blog PopVille, a resident writes about a recent interaction with Metro police:

I think I had my first experience of being stopped for Walking While Black. Mind you, I’m not black. I’m a 52-year-old white woman. Last night, I was walking from dinner down 14th St. near Spring Rd. with my sons, who are black. One was pointing out to me all the “J.O.s,” the undercover cops who “jump out” and demand see their ID. for no apparent reason, possibly frisk you, and do all other manner of constitutionally questionable behavior.

So after my son had just pointed out a particular J.O., lo and behold, a car pulls up, and out jump four or five officers confronting us and demanding to see our IDs. I ask if there is a problem and why are we being stopped. No answer, but they are becoming a little more aggressive and say they just want to see our IDs. They are obviously more interested in the boys, but want my ID as well. I ask why I need to show my ID. I introduce myself as the mother of these two young men and ask if we’re being stopped because my children are black (we’re used to be followed in the store, for example).

The officers—there are now about 10 or 11 of them surrounding us—become quite indignant and say how offended they are that I would say such a thing and accuse me of being ignorant, and say that I just accused them of being racist . . .

After we walked a few more blocks, another car of “JOs” drove by and honked and waved in a taunting manner. Quite a professional lot, those 14th St. officers are.

This is one side of the encounter, of course. But it certainly reflects other accounts of stop and frisk incidents. The indignation is the kicker. The cops jump out on these folks, demanded identification, then they are offended that their targets might find the tactics objectionable. To her credit, Metro PD Chief Cathy Lanier did respond after the post went went up on Friday:

I am very sorry that you were subjected to what sounds like unprofessional behavior. Rest assured that we will handle this complaint appropriately and conduct an investigation into what occurred. I expect all of my members to treat everyone with dignity and respect all the time- every time. We will be in contact to get more information.



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