‘Walking While Black’: Michigan Cop Stops Brandon McKean for Walking with Hands in Pockets
A black man walking down a Pontiac, Michigan street with his hands in his pockets on a cold November day was stopped and questioned by a police officer who said he was “making people nervous.”
In the video, the unidentified Oakland County Sheriff’s deputy explains that he is stopping McKean because he was “making people nervous.”
McKean: “By walking by?”
Officer: “Yeah they said you had your hands in your pockets.”
McKean: “Wow. Walking by, having your hands in your pockets makes people nervous and call the police when it’s snowing outside?”
Officer: “It is. What are you up to today?”
McKean: “Walking with my hands in my pockets. Walking.”
Officer: “Is it an inconvenience talking to me right now?”
McKean: “Hell yes. Just because of the whole police situation going on across the country. This is outrageous that you would let somebody tell you ‘Oh, there’s somebody walking down the street with their hands in their pockets.’ There’s ten thousand people in Pontiac right now with their hands in their pockets, so how many…”
Officer: “That’s right, but we do have a lot of robberies, so I’m just checking on you. You’re fine, you’re good.”
McKean: “That’s fine. I’m just making sure I get this on camera… for my safety and yours. I’m being very respectable, you’re being very respectable…”
The two men then high-five before McKean adds that he is “really mad at the situation, whoever called. That’s crazy.”
The phenomenon known among many black Americans as “walking while black” has claimed many victims throughout the years and continues to make headlines today. Gone are the days when a black man could face arrest — or worse — for failing to step out the way of approaching whites on a sidewalk. But blacks continue to be detained and arrested for nothing more than “fitting the description.”
No one is immune — Hollywood producer Charles Belk was recentlyarrested while on his way to a pre-Emmy party because Beverly Hills police believed he “fit the description” of an armed robbery suspect.
McKean and Belk are among the “lucky ones.” As the tragic case of Trayvon Martin recently demonstrated, “walking while black” can literally be deadly.
“Walking while black — merely being black — still seems to be a crime in this country,” wrote Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) President Richard Cohen in the wake of the Trayvon Martin incident.
“Trayvon represents the hundreds of thousands of African-American men and boys… who are viewed by our criminal and juvenile justice system as sub-human and disposable,” added Cohen.