In case you think there is not enough evidence that many police officers racially profile black citizens, newly released dashcam video from Ramapo, New York, adds to the mounting proof that that is, indeed, the case.
On April 21, 2014, four New York state parole officers, driving a state owned car, were stopped, and held at gunpoint for nearly an hour by officers of the Rockland police department. This despite the fact that the four were wearing bulletproof vests, and had law enforcement shields around their necks, according to the Journal News. One of the parole officers said that one of the cops even recognized him, yet they continued to train their weapons on the four.
Damon Jones, of Blacks In Law Enforcement of America, had this to say about the incident:
If these guys aren’t safe, imagine what a young black man feels about interacting with the police. They have no chance.
The four parole officers have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the town and the police department. Jones says the police need to explain why they continued to hold the officers after they had been identified as law enforcement officials. The town maintains that the police did nothing wrong. Ramapo police captain Brad Weidel complains that the town did not receive a courtesy call to inform them that the officers were in the area.
The video shows police cars surrounding the vehicle occupied by the parole officers. One police officer emerges from his vehicle, and immediately draws his gun. Another reaches into the driver’s side of the car, as one of the parole officers steps out, his hands in the air. After all four of the parole officers are ordered out of the vehicle, another cop can be seen approaching the group, holding a rifle. The police involved were not wearing microphones, so there is no audio of what appears to be an angry exchange between the cops and the parole officers.
This incident occurred because police responded to a call from a citizen about four people wearing bulletproof vests. Some experts say that the police behaved properly in the way they approached the group. But almost everyone agrees that once the parole officers were identified, the police should have apologized to them and allowed them to go on their way. Instead, they were held for another six minutes.
Ken Cooper, an expert on use of force, says that the situation could have turned ugly. “It could have been horrific had the egos gotten out of control,” he says.
Damon Jones is correct. If these parole officers were treated this way by police, how is a Michael Brown, an Eric Garner, a Freddie Gray, or any of hundreds of black citizens who encounter police every day, supposed to have any chance?
Here’s the dashcam video, via the Journal News:
Featured image via screenshot from police dashcam video