Mayborn dean sounds off on ‘walking while black’

Mayborn dean sounds off on ‘walking while black’

Mayborn dean sounds off on ‘walking while black’
October 29
10:41 2015

Dalton LaFerney | News Editor

@daltonlaferney

With more than 25 years of experience, Dorothy Bland has mentored hundreds of students and journalists, been awarded for career excellence and worked as a reporter, editor, publisher and dean, currently of the Mayborn School of Journalism. But last weekend, she was a black woman wearing a hoodie, walking in an upperclass neighborhood.

Dorothy Bland

Dorothy Bland

During her daily walk through her Corinth neighborhood at about 11 a.m. Saturday, Bland said she was stopped by two Corinth police officers, both white, and was asked to produce a source of identification. The officers said she was compromising her own safety by walking in the street.

Bland had only her iPhone and earbuds, listening to Urban Praise radio during her run. She was wearing a hoodie, which read “Boston” across the chest, because it had just been raining. And when she could not give the I.D., “they just looked at me,” and began to take notes.

“I was just trying to figure out what I had done wrong,” Bland said on Monday. “I felt like I was not in America.”

Bland expeditiously posted photos of the officers and their police cruiser to Facebook, because she wanted to make sure people knew what had occurred should anything else develop.

“I have friends,” she said.

Indeed. More than 100 people responded to her encounter, from Maryland to California, from Virginia back to Texas. Wrote one user: “Walking while black is a crime in many jurisdictions.”

Bland wrote about the incident in a guest column for The Dallas Morning News, as she said it fits a wider pattern of police interaction with people of color in the United States, put under intense examination following the deaths of several black Americans at the hands of police.

Corinth police spoke to the North Texas Daily about the incident, and Chief of Police Debra Walthall responded to Bland’s guest column with a column of her own.

“Please review the video and I’m sure you will agree the officers’ intent was simply to keep her safe,” Walthall wrote. “Ms. Bland never contacted the police department to voice her concerns regarding this encounter and has not returned my phone message left at the number provided by the mayor.”

Weltall said officers reported that Bland was walking in the middle of the street impeding a passing truck, which prompted the officers to stop her, for her own safety.

In dashboard camera footage provided by the Corinth Police Department, Bland can be seen walking in the road near the sidewalk. The encounter ended without physical interaction, and Bland was not taken into custody, nor was she given a citation.

“The more often we talk and get to know people as humans, the stronger we will become as a nation,” Bland wrote. “We are all part of the human race.”

Featured Image: Image from the dash camera footage of the incident released by the Corinth Police Department. Courtesy | Corinth Police Department

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