Steve Locke, assistant professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design recently shared a harrowing story about being detained by police for a crime he didn’t commit.
While on his way to pick up lunch before class, a police cruiser began following him. Before he could open the door to the restaurant, Locke was stopped by an officer who questioned his whereabouts. Apparently, he fit the 5’11, 160 pound description of a black man that had just committed a robbery.
In a matter of seconds, Locke was surrounded by three police cars as he tried to explain to the officers that he lived and worked in the neighborhood.
“For the record, I’m not a criminal. I’m a college professor” he said to an officer.
“You fit the description so we just have to check it out. We have the victim and we need her to take a look at you to see if you are the person.”
In one of the most powerful statements from his story, Locke shared what was going through his mind: “It was at this moment that I knew that I was probably going to die. I am not being dramatic when I say this. I was not going to get into a police car. I was not going to present myself to some victim.”
“I was not going let someone tell the cops that I was not guilty when I already told them that I had nothing to do with any robbery… I was not going anywhere with these cops and I was not going to let some white woman decide whether or not I was a criminal, especially after I told them that I was not a criminal. This meant that I was going to resist arrest.This meant that I was not going to let the police put their hands on me.”
“If you are wondering why people don’t go with the police, I hope this explains it for you” he added.
After nearly an hour of questioning, Locke was released with the simple, “Sorry for screwing up your lunch break” from one of the many cops that questioned his identity.
“Nothing I am, nothing I do, nothing I have means anything because I fit the description” concluded Locke in his editorial which sparked a debate of nearly one thousand responses in the comments of section his blog. While there were some ignorant reactions to his story, the discussion also yielded reaction from several white people who gained a new understanding of “white privilege” and why, #BlackLivesMatter all from reading Locke’s testimony.
“I am white. My hands are almost too shaky to type this. You and so many are being targeted, denigrated, murdered by police for being black. My thoughts are with you. I do all I can to help white people I know understand one thousandth of what it must be like to go through what you have” said reader Norman Sarachek