Friday, August 16, 2019

Michigan White Woman Calls Police On Black Man For Reckless Eyeballing

American Black men who are present where white people think they shouldn't be or who look at a white person and scare that person can be in danger of being assaulted (if the white person in question happens to be male and/or larger than the Black man) or of being detained/arrested by the police (if the white person in question happens to be female and/or smaller than the Black man). Of course if the frightened white person happens to be armed, that Black man or boy might be in even more serious and immediate trouble.

This was often called "reckless eyeballing" after the southern habit of arresting black men accused of looking at a white woman. Looking a white woman in the eyes, or with with what she thought was sexual interest, or just making her uncomfortable could and did lead to arrest, assaults, beatings, lynchings, murders and pogroms.  

Matt Ingram was among the last convicted under this framework, in a 1951 case made notorious by civil rights activists in North Carolina. A seventeen-year-old white woman named Willa Jean Boswell testified that she was scared when her neighbor Ingram looked at her from a distance of about 65 feet. Prosecutors demanded a conviction of assault with intent to rape that was reduced to assault on a female by the judge, leading to a two-year sentence.
At the appeal in Superior Court, the judge instructed the jury that Ingram was guilty if he used “intentional threats or menace of violence such as looking at a person in a leering manner, that is, in some sort of sly or threatening or suggestive manner…he causes another to reasonably apprehend imminent danger” The all-white jury again returned a conviction, leading to a six-month sentence of labor on the roads, suspended for five years.

Cases like this were why many older Black men I know avoided even transparently consensual and utterly platonic interactions with white women. They considered it imprudent or even dangerous. But times have changed have they not? Well they have and have not. Recently not far from me, this happened:  Royal Oak police have launched an internal investigation after officers stopped and questioned a black man reportedly because a white woman said he looked at her suspiciously. 
Critics say the police response was aggressive and over the top. A video of the encounter, which happened Tuesday evening outside the Inn Season Cafe, is circulating on social media.

The man was walking to the restaurant when an officer pulled up and began asking him questions, Inn Season manager Erin Frey told the Free Press. Three other officers also responded to the scene. The man was questioned for almost an hour before he was told he was free to go, Frey said. 
Frey said the incident began with the man trying to find a parking spot on the street across from the Inn Season. She said he waited for the woman to pull out of her parking space. When she didn't leave, he eventually drove away and found another spot elsewhere. Frey said the woman "felt threatened and thought he was suspicious, and she called the police." 

After parking his car, the man was walking to the restaurant, where his girlfriend was waiting inside, when the first officer pulled up in a vehicle. The officer parked partially on the sidewalk, exited the vehicle and began asking the man questions, Frey said.

A bystander named Kimiko Adolph recorded the incident and posted the video on Facebook. The video captures only the final minutes of the encounter, Frey said. In the video, the man, who says he is 20 years old, can be seen talking to two police officers. After a police supervisor was called, two more officers arrived later on motorcycles, at least one of whom was a supervisor, Frey said. Frey stayed outside with the man during the incident to show her support, she told the Free Press.

I have exactly zero expectations that if I called the police to complain that someone gave me a dirty look that they would show up and detain and interview the alleged mean person for an hour, obviously trying to find something, anything to justify an arrest.

I want you to imagine that armed state agents detain and question you for a hour solely because a white woman said she didn't like your looks. Aren't the police supposed to protect and serve everyone? Or are they race soldiers who are sworn to protect and serve white people? You very rarely hear about Black people calling the police over this sort of nonsense. It's because very few Black people in America are entitled or delusional enough to think that the police should be the enforcers of their sense of decorum and because most Black people know that even if they DID call the police there's always a chance that things might go sideways.
I don't know how we do this but we must train racist/fearful whites away from calling the police just because they saw a Black man and wet their depends. The best way to do this is change the law so that police ignore calls unless there is an allegation of a crime. When a citizen is needlessly surrounded by four armed state agents there are just too many things that can go wrong. I want to minimize interaction with the police. It's bad for Black men's health. It's also bad for the health of Black men and boys when White people pull guns on them for the crime of fundraising for their football team. This stuff must stop.

The Royal Oak Police Department has issued an apology to a black man who was stopped by police on Wednesday after a white woman allegedly said he was staring "suspiciously" at her. "On behalf of the police department, I would like to apologize to Mr. Myers for how he was treated. What should have been a very short encounter was extended when the officer involved insisted on getting Mr. Myers’ identification. The officer had no legal right to demand the identification and should have simply advised Mr. Myers why we were there and allowed him to go on his way," police said in a statement.
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