Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nothing Ever Changes for People of Color in Benton Harbor

Racial profiling a problem for area commuter

Editor, (HP 9/24)

When will police officers stop with the racial profiling? I am a 30-year-old Benton Harbor native. I’ve been working in New Buffalo for 16 months now, and I’ve been stopped over 10 times.

Is it because I am an African American driving a Chevy Caprice? Never once have I been given a ticket or an adequate reason for being pulled over. They run my name, check my information, and then it’s, “Have a nice day.”

I eventually moved to New Buffalo to be closer to my job.

Wrong move there. The New Buffalo Police Department was pulling me over and providing me with escorts home about once a month. Black man + Chevy Caprice + getting off at midnight = a free escort home by the men in blue. I solved that problem by moving out of New Buffalo!

Now I’m living back in Benton Harbor, and I have to deal with police on I-94. I also have a Pontiac G6 that I drive from Benton Harbor because it’s good on gas. It’s only been a month since I’ve been commuting from Benton Harbor to New Buffalo. During the first week of commuting, I passed an officer at exit 6. He comes out, rides my bumper and then turns around. I know he ran my plates before he was uninterested and backed off. I let that incident go.

Three weeks later, same thing. I pass an officer posted in the median at exit 6. He comes out, rides my bumper (runs my plates) and follows me off the my exit before getting back on I-94. This time I called Berrien County to complain.

Question: When will African-American men and other men of color get the benefit of the doubt, like the next man?

Reggie D. York Benton Harbor