24-year-old certified firearms instructor and aspiring Los Angeles Police Department officer Sim Sangha of Fremont, Calif. says she feels like she was profiled on the basis of her skin color after she inquired about a possible AR-15 ammo purchase during a shopping trip to a local Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Sangha visited the store on Wednesday of last week. During the shopping trip, she inquired about purchasing 8 boxes of AR-15 ammo but opted against buying them at that time and instead purchased an exercise mask. Police officials say that the employee then notified police about the inquiry, prompting two officers to visit Sangha at her home two days later.
Sangha told NBC Bay Area, “I don’t know if it’s [because of] my skin color or that I’m Indian. I’m not a Muslim, but even if I were, that’s no reason to call police to my home, instantly.”
She added, “I feel like I was racially profiled. I have tons of friends who are both law enforcement officers and normal citizens here, and they purchase ammunition all the time in bulk, before the San Bernardino shooting and after that incident as well, and they’ve never been questioned before. They’ve never had the police show up at their house before.” Sangha says she could have provided the store clerk with a copy of her firearms certification if asked.
In McKinney, Texas last Friday, a pool party at Craig Ranch North Community Pool descended into chaos when local police responded to complaints of a fight and that unauthorized guests were attending the party. The McKinney Police Department response to the incident, particularly as it pertains to the behavior of Corporal Eric Casebolt, has been described as excessive and racially-motivated by local community leaders, according to CBS 46. The majority of the party-goers were African American teens, and Corporal Casebolt was filmed detaining bystanders seemingly at random, wrestling a bikini-clad 14-year-old girl to the ground, and pulling his pistol on another teen who clenched his fist near the officer.
Fifteen-year-old white teenager Brandon Brooks, who also attended the pool party, filmed the incident and said in an above-embedded interview with journalist Andrew Demeter that he believes that Casebolt acted inappropriately and that racial bias appeared to be a motivating factor.
Brooks told NewsFix CW33, “I was one of the only white people in the area when that was happening. You can see in part of the video where he tells us to sit down, and he kinda’ like skips over me and tells all my African-American friends to go sit down.” Brooks’ full video of the incident can be seen in the YouTube player below.
In the video, Corporal Casebolt can be seen swearing and accusing the teens of running their mouths just before he grabs 14-year-old girl Dajerria Becton and forcefully wrestles her to the ground. As bystanders begin to crowd around him, a teen can be seen clenching his fist in anger, to which Casebolt responds by drawing his pistol on the teen. Casebolt then keeps his pistol out while wrestling with the 14-year-old girl as she calls for her mother.
“I think she was quote unquote running her mouth, and she has freedom of speech and that was very uncalled for him to throw her to the ground… When he pulled his gun my heart dropped. As soon as he pulled out his gun, I thought he was going to shoot that kid. That was very scary,” said eyewitness Brooks to NewsFix CW33.
“It is our hope and prayer that the Chief of Police and the mayor of this city handle this situation by not only firing this officer but taking his license, because this was simply based on race,” said local pastor Reverend Ronald Wright.
Brooks said in his above-embedded interview with Andrew Demeter that police were originally called in response to a fight between a mother and a teen girl, and that the other bystanders, many of whom were detained, had nothing to do with the incident. Said Brooks to NewsFix CW33, “The cops showed up and the parents immediately started yelling, ‘you need more cops, there’s too many of them.’ And most of the kids weren’t even involved. It was a fight between a mom and girl, which had nothing to do with all the other kids that she apparently needed more cops for.”
“The McKinney FOP assures that this was not a racially motivated incident and can say without a shadow of doubt that all members of the McKinney FOP and McKinney PD do not conduct racially biased policing,” said McKinney Fraternal Order of Police president Daniel Malenfant, according to ABC News.
Jahi Adisa Bakari, a parent of a 13-year-old who attended the pool party, said that Casebolt’s behavior was “out of control” but that she “saw some [officers] doing the right thing.” She continued, “I saw some actually trying to keep the matter right.”
USA Today notes that party organizer Tatyana Rhodes said “[Corporal Casebolt] was just aggressive for no reason at all.”
43-year-old African-American resident Benet Embry said, according to CNN, “Let me reiterate, the neighbors or the neighborhood did not call the police because this was an African-American party or whatever the situation is. This was not a racially motivated event — at all. This whole thing is being blown completely out of proportion.” Many of the party’s attendees felt that the police were called primarily because residents of the predominately-white neighborhood were bothered by the number of African-American teens at the pool.
Fifteen-year-old white eyewitness Brandon Brooks said that he felt he was “invisible” to the cops, who he believed were only focused on detaining the African-American party-goers.
“Several concerns about the conduct of one of the officers at the scene have been raised. The McKinney Police Department is committed to treating all persons fairly under the law. We are committed to preserving the peace and safety of our community for all our citizens,” said McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley at a press conference.
An adult male was arrested at the scene on charges of evading arrest and interfering with the duties of a police officer.
“Our initial reaction was to place [Officer Casebolt] on administrative leave until we can conduct a complete and thorough investigation of the incident,” McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley said.
UPDATE: Caselbolt resigned on Tuesday, according to his attorney. Read more here.
According to the music news site Loudwire, Alice in Chains vocalist William DuVall, who took over as the band’s lead singer following the death of Layne Staley, recently described an incident, which he claims happened around five years ago, in which police allegedly detained him for 30 minutes at his own West Hollywood home, as he was pulling into his garage, under suspicion that he was about to break into it. He says that police held him despite the fact that his driver’s license confirmed that he lived at the address. He believes that his detention was racially motivated.
Following a grand jury’s decision not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner, a Twitter discussion on racial disparities in the criminal justice system emerged under the hashtag #AliveWhileBlack. Alice in Chains frontman William DuVall contributed to the discussion on December 4 with the below tweet, describing the alleged time when he was profiled by police.
Detained pulling into own garage in W. Hollywood. Told “You don’t live here.” License SHOWS MY ADDRESS. Still held 30 mins. #AliveWhileBlack
When some news outlets reacted to the tweet by reporting that the detention had just taken place, DuVall clarified that he was referring to an incident that had occurred in the past.
He offered further comments on Facebook discussing racial disparities in the criminal justice system, saying, “I was inspired to recount [the detention] after reading the many #AliveWhileBlack and #CrimingWhileWhite posts coming up on Twitter yesterday. In my view, those entries provide one of the most riveting illustrations of the dichotomy at the heart of America that I have ever seen. What really struck me is the fact that those stories flooding in by the thousands are merely a fraction of the millions more we will never hear. These are the ‘small’ stories, the ‘everyday’ stories, the ones so deeply woven into the fabric of our lives that they almost become mundane. And therein lies the true nature and scope of the problem… Because what’s most tragic and sobering to me about ALL of these stories – whether they fall into the more graphically horrific category of an Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, or Michael Brown or whether they are of the more ‘mundane’ variety like many of the ones currently being shared on Twitter, including my own – is that, almost without exception, any of them could have just as easily taken place 50 years ago.”
A Facebook user replied to DuVall’s post, saying, “I’d bet there’s more to this story and a legitimate and articulable reason as to why you were detained.”
DuVall replied, “If by ‘more to the story’ you mean the fact that I’m a law abiding citizen with no criminal record whatsoever, zero history of any criminal activity, who pays plenty in taxes every year, who dared to pull into my own driveway after a day of work and running errands, then, yes, you’re right, there is more to the story. My bad.”
DuVall ended his comments on a positive note, saying, “We have made tremendous strides as a nation, many of them in my own lifetime. I remain extremely proud of that. In the name of our ancestors who sacrificed so much to get us here and our children who will inherit this earth in our wake, we can’t afford to idle and we can’t fall back now. We have before us a golden opportunity to take yet another step forward. For all our sakes, I sincerely hope we seize it.”