An encounter between a Texas university dean and police has caused backlash after the dean claimed she was stopped for “walking while Black.”
The New York Daily News reports that University of North Texas journalism dean Dorothy Bland (no relation to Sandra Bland) was taking her morning stroll on Oct. 24 when she was approached by two Corinth, Tx. police officers. The officers informed Bland, 57, she was impeding traffic and advised her to walk on the other side of the street so she could see oncoming vehicles.
Bland complied with the officers’ request, but was surprised she was stopped in the first place. She took photos of the officers and their license plate before the encounter was over.
Bland then shared her experience with her students and the public in a column for The Dallas Morning News. She accused the officers of racial profiling.
The Dallas Morning News reports:
“For anyone who doesn’t think racial profiling happens, I can assure you it does happen,” Bland writes. “For a sanity check, I stopped by the mayor’s house and asked him, “Do I look like a criminal?” Mayor Bill Heidemann said no and shook his head in disbelief. I appreciate the mayor being a good neighbor, but why should he need to verify that I am not a menace to society?”
Corinth Police Chief Debra Walthall struck back with a written response of her own and also released dashcam footage of the encounter.
In the video, the officers and Bland are cordial with one another. Walthall said she didn’t know Bland had an issue with the officers, since it was never reported.
“I am surprised by her comments as this was not a confrontational encounter but a display of professionalism and genuine concern for her safety,” the chief wrote. “The citizens of Corinth as a whole are a highly educated population, and it is disappointing that one of our residents would attempt to make this a racial issue when clearly it is not.”
Since the release of the footage, an online petition has been created to remove Bland from her position at the university. The petition claims Bland brought negative attention to the school. So far, it has gained half of its required signatures.
However, the University of North Texas encouraged the public to look at both sides of the incident and make their own judgments.
Do you think the encounter was racial profiling, or officers looking out for Bland’s safety?
Sound off in the comments below.
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