Dorothy Bland, dean of the journalism school at the University of North Texas, is used to taking a walk at daybreak. But rain delayed her exercise regimen until later Saturday morning when she began traversing the streets of her well-to-do Corinth neighborhood.
But soon “flashing lights and sirens from a police vehicle” paused her walk, she wrote in a column for the Dallas Morning News.
Bland was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, and she’s black.
“Like most African-Americans, I am familiar with the phrase ‘driving while black,’ but was I really being stopped for walking on the street in my own neighborhood?” she asked.
“Yes,” she answered. “In the words of Sal Ruibal, ‘Walking while black is a crime in many jurisdictions. May God have mercy on our nation.’”
Bland said she asked the officers if there was a problem but didn’t “remember getting a decent answer before one of the officers asked me where I lived and for identification.”
More from Bland:
I remember saying something like, “Around the corner. This is my neighborhood, and I’m a taxpayer who pays a lot of taxes.” As for the I.D. question, how many Americans typically carry I.D. with them on their morning walk? Do you realize I bought the hoodie I was wearing after completing the Harvard University Institute for Management and Leadership in Education in 2014? Do you realize I have hosted gatherings for family, friends, faculty, staff and students in my home? Not once was a police officer called. To those officers, my education or property-owner status didn’t matter. One officer captured my address and date of birth.
Bland figured she “was simply a brown face in an affluent neighborhood. I told the police I didn’t like to walk in the rain, and one of them told me, ‘My dog doesn’t like to walk in the rain.’ Ouch!”
She added that “for safety’s sake” she used her iPhone to take a photo of the officers and their patrol car’s license plate, as Bland didn’t want to end up like “the dozens of others who have died while in police custody.” Within hours after posting about the incident on Facebook, Bland said more than 100 friends spread the news across the country.
Read more: The Blaze