The Dallas Morning News

Why didn’t police just tell walker to get out of the street?

Corinth radio ‘name check’ an unnecessar­y indignity, Leona Allen says

- Leona Allen is a Dallas Morning News editorial writer. Reach her at ldallen@dallasnews.com.

I looked at the video of Corinth police’s stop of UNT journalism dean Dorothy Bland — as she walked in her own neighborho­od — and have no doubt that she was caught “walking while black.”

Corinth police officials looked at the same video and concluded that officers were only concerned about Bland’s safety, and they have no doubt that her race had nothing to do with it.

How is it possible to have visual evidence of an incident and come away with two different interpreta­tions?

It’s a matter of perspectiv­e. And it’s the reason we have so far to go to find middle ground in the critical work of repairing police and community race relations.

Consider: I’m minding my own business doing my morning exercise through the neighborho­od where I live and pay bills. Two white officers drive up behind me, tell me to get out of the street for my safety and because I’m hindering traffic.

This is all A-OK — up until the point the officers make me feel they think I’m up to no good.

If officers were concerned only about Bland’s safety and her impeding traffic, why did they ask her for her ID? Why did they need her birthdate? Why did they radio in a “name check”? We’re not fools. Sure looks like they’re calling to check to see if she had outstandin­g warrants.

Why not just tell Bland to get out of the street, wish her well and send her on her way?

Bland did the right thing and left the scene without putting up too much of a fuss. Because of the manhandlin­g of Sandra Bland and the deaths of Eric Garner and Walter Scott at the hands of police, I’m frightened about what could have happened had she protested then and there to the indignity of being placed under a cloud of suspicion.

I have to ask myself, would this have been handled differentl­y had Bland been one of her white neighbors? Bland is asking the same question.

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