The Cop Was Black

The Yale cop who pulled a gun on an African-American undergraduate and forced him to the ground—because he allegedly matched the description of a burglar who was later caught—is African-American himself.

Three Yale officials—President Peter Salovey, Police Chief Ronnell Higgins, and Dean Jonathan Holloway—confirmed that fact in an email message sent to the Yale community Monday night.

The trio called for the community to “reflect” on the incident, which has provoked criticism nationwide since it occurred on Saturday. It became national news because the student, Tahj Blow, is the son of New York Times op-ed columnist and racial-profiling critic Charles Blow, who tweeted and then wrote a Times article about it.

Salovey, Higgins and Holloway reported that Yale police are conducting an internal investigation into why the officer drew his gun on Tahj Blow.

At the same time, the trio wrote that the cop had “reason” to stop Tahj because his appearance, including his clothing, allegedly matched that of the suspect.

“What happened on Cross Campus on Saturday is not a replay of what happened in Ferguson; Staten Island; Cleveland; or so many other places in our time and over time in the United States. The officer, who himself is African American, was responding to a specific description relayed by individuals who had reported a crime in progress,” they wrote.

“Even though the officer’s decision to stop and detain the student may have been reasonable, the fact that he drew his weapon during the stop requires a careful review. For this reason, the Yale Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit is conducting a thorough and expeditious investigation of the circumstances surrounding the incident, and will report the findings of that investigation to us. We, in turn, will share the findings with the community. We ask that you allow us the time needed to collect and examine the facts from everyone involved.”

Click here to read the full email message.

Earlier versions of this story follow:

Columnist’s Son Was Forced To Ground At Gunpoint

A Yale cop ordered a black student to the ground at gunpoint because he allegedly “matched” a description of a burglary suspect.

That’s the word from Charles Blow, a New York Times columnist known for criticizing racial profiling.

In this case Blow is talking about his son Tahj, a Yale undergraduate biology major.

Charles Blow brought the incident, which occurred late Saturday afternoon, to national attention over the weekend with a series of Tweets.

Now he has fleshed out the story. What bothered him, Blow writes in a column in Monday’s Times, isn’t that his son was stopped. But how he was stopped.

Tahj tells what happened through his father in the column.

He was leaving the library around 5:45 p.m. and in the vicinity of Trumbull College, a Yale dorm. Yale police were in the area looking for a suspect—a black man “wearing a black jacket and a red and white hat,” according to the university. Believing Tahj Blow fit the description, an officer followed him.

Here’s what happened next, according to his dad’s column:

“I faced forward again, presuming that the officer was not talking to me. I then heard him say, ‘Hey, turn around!’ — which I did.
“The officer raised his gun at me, and told me to get on the ground.

“At this point, I stopped looking directly at the officer, and looked down towards the pavement. I dropped to my knees first, with my hands raised, then laid down on my stomach.

“The officer asked me what my name was. I gave him my name.

“The officer asked me what school I went to. I told him Yale University.

“At this point, the officer told me to get up.”

The officer gave his name, then asked my son to “give him a call the next day.” …

“I got up slowly, and continued to walk back to my room. I was scared. My legs were shaking slightly. After a few more paces, the officer said, ‘Hey, my man. Can you step off to the side?’ I did.”

The officer asked him to turn around so he could see the back of his jacket. He asked his name again, then, finally, asked to see my son’s ID. My son produced his school ID from his wallet.

The officer asked more questions, and my son answered. All the while the officer was relaying this information to someone over his radio.
My son heard someone on the radio say back to the officer “something to the effect of: ‘Keep him there until we get this sorted out.’ ” The officer told my son that an incident report would be filed, and then he walked away.

Left out of the Yale account and the Blow account is whether in fact Tahj Blow fit the description. Was he wearing a hat? Tahj Blow declined to elaborate when contacted by the Independent. Yale said it might have more details to report later this week after completing an investigation.
Another question that remains unanswered is the race of the police officer.

Charles Blow wrote that he did not object to police stopping to question his son if he indeed matched the suspect’s description.
“School is his community, his home away from home, and he would have appreciated reasonable efforts to keep it safe. The stop is not the problem; the method of the stop is the problem,” Blow wrote.

“Why was a gun drawn first? Why was he not immediately told why he was being detained? Why not ask for ID first?

“What if my son had panicked under the stress, having never had a gun pointed at him before, and made what the officer considered a “suspicious” movement? Had I come close to losing him? Triggers cannot be unpulled. Bullets cannot be called back.

An earlier version of this story follows:

Blow Back

Yale police stopped “at gunpoint” a black undergraduate whose father happens to be a leading national voice against racial profiling. After the father started tweeting, the university started investigating.

The incident occurred Saturday.

It involved the son of New York Times op-ed columnist and Fire Shut Up In My Bones author Charles Blow (pictured).

“So, my son, a 3rd year chem major at Yale was just accosted - at GUN POINT - by a Yale policeman bc he ‘fit the description” of a suspect…’” Charles Blow tweeted. (He later corrected the Tweet: His son majors in biology.)

“He was let go when they realized he was a college student and not a criminal ( he was leaving the library!) He’s shaken, but I’m fuming!”

“This is exactly why I have NO PATIENCE for ppl trying to convince me that the fear these young blk men feel isn’t real #RacialBattleFatigue”

Four hours later, Blow tweeted: “I’m still trying to calm myself down…”

Yale responded with a prompt and unusually detailed official response Saturday night. It read:

“Earlier this evening, Yale police responded to emergency calls from undergraduates in Trumbull College, one of twelve residential colleges on the Yale campus.  Several students reported that an individual had just entered their rooms under false pretenses, pretending to be looking for someone. Students in Trumbull College have been the victims of burglary this week, and a person matching the physical description of the individual, as well as the story of ‘looking for someone’ has been seen several times in the college.  (See this report from the Yale Daily News.)

“Tonight, when students spotted him, they called police and described him as a tall, African-American, college-aged student wearing a black jacket and a red and white hat. This was the description that Yale police used as they converged on Trumbull and attempted to track down the suspect. During the efforts to locate and detain the suspect, a Yale College student, who closely matched the description of the suspect, was briefly detained and released by Yale police. The suspect, who was seen fleeing Trumbull College, was arrested shortly thereafter in Berkeley College (a residential college adjacent to Trumbull College) and will be charged with felony burglaries.

“An internal review of the incident will be conducted by the YPD Chief’s office.”

Reached by email, Blow’s son said he does not wish to make a statement at this time.

 

Tags: , , ,

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry

Comments

posted by: wendy1 on January 25, 2015  11:58am

I read Charles Blow.  OMG!! A big apology is in order for this family. 

I dont know the details but I’m still getting over the fact that Yale has a swat team.  I met them by accident at the Rose Center.  I don’t blame the chief.  I love that guy and recently gave him The Last Interview with James Baldwin.

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on January 25, 2015  1:16pm

Insert the naive “If you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about” line here.

I’m glad that Blow’s son survived that encounter and lived to fight back against profiling. So many others lost their lives bc they “fit the profile”.

posted by: ebw1957 on January 25, 2015  1:21pm

Getting past another inflamitory headline If the statement by Yale is accurate, then I read a crimes have been committed, someone committed those crimes. Students have the right to safety- no?

They find a guy who doesn’t belong in their dorm and give a description to police. The police follow up. I fail to see any bias on the part of the police. The narrative does not tell the whole story, so we don’t know what prompted the police to draw their weapons, but the officers have a right to go home to their families—so if someone acts in a manor which warrents they feel they need to draw their weapon- then so be it.

I feel badly for the man but the police aren’t going to chasing down white guys if the description is so clear it wasn’t one.

posted by: Esbey on January 25, 2015  2:08pm

The problem with profiling is that if Yale police get a description of a burglar as a “tall college age white guy” they aren’t going to stop every tall young white guy they see.  If they do stop one, they will be super-cautious, polite and apologetic.  If the white guy acts upset that he is being stopped while innocent, there is only a small chance that police guns end up being pulled.

If the Yale police hear of a burglar who is a “tall college age black guy,” they are going to stop most every tall young black man they see.  If the kid gets upset, the guns are coming right out.  We know that in many cities (I hope and actually believe not here, thank god and our excellent police chiefs) if the kid doesn’t instantly obey in the precisely exact way that the cops want, he will be dead in a matter of seconds.

I had a friend in college, a super-smart middle class kid, who was a “medium height, medium build young black man.”  He was questioned by the cops, on average, once a week and ended up spending an hour or two in the police station about once a month. 

Much of this, especially here in New Haven, is not conscious racism; it is unexamined, unconscious beliefs about blacks and whites.  There is a huge body of psychological evidence that purely implicit racial beliefs drive split-second decisions by almost everyone (including many blacks.)  You have to really actively work against it to overcome it.

posted by: Solsbury on January 25, 2015  2:33pm

I’ll just leave this here:

“He was a tall African-American man, so I’m confident it’s the same person”

said the Yale student quoted in the Yale Daily News story.
http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2015/01/25/after-thwarted-theft-attempt-in-trumbull-ypd-arrests-intruder/

posted by: alphaGirl on January 25, 2015  3:17pm

ebw1957 Yes Students have the right to safety!  He too is a student at Yale! Does his safety and rights not matter?  The problem is that he was stopped and questioned at gun point.  He was leaving the library, walking not running, unaware that anything was going on. He didn’t have on a red and white cap, he had on a long black coat not a jacket, but I guess kinda fitting the description is good enough.  I am just thanking God that before he was sent off to college 3 years ago, this was a conversation that was had, and he was made aware of how to “behave” if he ever found himself in this situation.  I hope that your level of empathy activates before you or someone you know or care about finds themselves in similar circumstances.  But the reality of the situation is that you will probably never have to deal with anything of the sorts. Not about race, about humanity, and human rights for all!

posted by: SwampfoxII on January 25, 2015  3:49pm

I fail to see how Yale Police engaged in racial profiling by stopping someone in the vicinity who fit the description as given by Yale students. Seems Mr. Blow is way out of line with his complaint.

posted by: NHV Greenie on January 25, 2015  4:42pm

I would encourage anyone who is truly interested in participating in a thoughtful dialog on this to attend this event tomorrow (Monday) night: http://events.newhavenindependent.org/uploads/Teach_In_Poster_09.jpg

posted by: mill26 on January 25, 2015  5:12pm

The problem is, we need to educate our dear police officers about critical thinking, as well as cultural competency classes. This cannot go on. this is not a logical way to deal with crime. The duty of the police officers is to protect the people of the US, not just ” some”. while this young man “slightly” match the ” profile”, you cannot or should not scare the kid with a gun. there must be some other way to handle these situations…

posted by: ctguy on January 25, 2015  6:53pm

What I see being lost here is he was detained with guns drawn. I am at a loss at why this was needed for a routine questioning? A civilian review board is needed now and the Yale PD very obviously needs additional training.

posted by: wendy1 on January 25, 2015  9:24pm

WAKE UP!!!You live in the most racially divided country in the world.  Integration is still a far-off dream probably not possible until the last boomer breathes his last.
Read the Black Man’s Code by Talbert Swan in the African-American Point of View August 2013 newspaper (on-line archive).

The police are scapegoats for a society that has discriminated against dark skin since day one.  The South won the civil war in reality.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on January 25, 2015  9:44pm

I have “fit the description” at least 3 times in my life while simply walking down the street. Once was while a student at Harvard, just a few feet away from the library with a bookbag full of books on my back, during exam period.

I know how this brother feels.


The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: Hill Resident on January 25, 2015  11:44pm

I won’t try this case against the police on a charge or profiling nor can I speak to why they drew their weapons. I wasn’t there. What I DO know that if there was a crime committed in my neighborhood (which is mostly Latino and African American) and the description of the perpetrator was a elderly, heavy set African American woman,  I would expect that if the police saw ME walking down the street that I would be stopped for questioning - because I fit the description. And if my behavior in any way appeared to be threatening to the police, I would expect them to draw their weapons. Unfortunately, this is what police officers face every day. I, on the other hand DON’T have to deal with being a victim of a crime every day partly because of the work of police officers, at least in MY neighborhood ... a neighborhood where a police officer was shot to death by someone who was committing a crime ... a neighborhood where a husband/father breathed his last breath and never went home to his family. Unfortunately I get anxious when I am approached by more than one African American youth that I don’t know ... I’ve seen the brutality that a group of African American youths committed against a person for their IPhone or their purse. I also get anxious when I see Caucasians walking around my neighborhood because the majority of those that do are going to buy drugs at the corner ... I know because I watch the transactions. If the description of the perpetrator is ‘it walked like a duck and it quacked like a duck’, and I’m a duck ... oh well. I will direct my ‘anger’ at those that commit the crimes that put police at a heightened level of caution/anxiety/fear. I will be angry at those that create this level of fear in my community by their criminal activities. I’ll be mad at the guy who started this all by breaking into the dorm rooms. I recommend the reading of ‘A Black Man’s Guide to Law Enforcement in America’s by Shafiq Abdussabur, a Black Male who is a New Haven police officer.

posted by: vc man on January 26, 2015  12:55am

This story should have been titled, “elitist father enraged his son was mistaken for common criminal, gets undies in a bunch and overreacts.” Also, kudos to YPD for catching the person committing the crimes.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on January 26, 2015  9:32am

We have come to know through scienitic research that eyewitness accounts are the least relible among all the evidence available.

The tag line often used by police “he fit the description” can apply to something as precise as an image of the alledged perpetrator caught on video, or to something as vauge as an estimated height, a general notion about skin complexion, and a iffy recollection of the type and color of clothes the person is thought to be wearing.

We are acting as if the tag “he fit the description” when so ubiquitously applied to Black men absolves the police of all notions of cultural and racial bias. It does not. It merely gives them a measure of protection from the necessary questions that come following the apprehension of so many innocents Black men who just happen to “fit the description”.

The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: Threefifths on January 26, 2015  9:33am

posted by: vc man on January 25, 2015 11:55pm

This story should have been titled, “elitist father enraged his son was mistaken for common criminal, gets undies in a bunch and overreacts.” Also, kudos to YPD for catching the person committing the crimes.

How do we know the have the right person?Police do lie.

posted by: Threefifths on January 26, 2015  9:41am

posted by: Hill Resident on January 25, 2015 10:44pm

I’ve seen the brutality that a group of African American youths committed against a person for their IPhone or their purse.

And they should be charge with the crime.But I have also seen brutality by the police on people of color and the police get off free.

posted by: Threefifths on January 26, 2015  9:46am

posted by: Hill Resident on January 25, 2015 10:44pm

I recommend the reading of ‘A Black Man’s Guide to Law Enforcement in America’s by Shafiq Abdussabur, a Black Male who is a New Haven police officer.

I recommend all to read this.

I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway
A retired Major League Baseball player explains how he’s trying to turn an upsetting encounter with the police into an opportunity for dialogue. 

A police officer from West Hartford had pulled up across the street, exited his vehicle, and begun walking in my direction. I noted the strangeness of his being in Hartford—an entirely separate town with its own police force—so I thought he needed help. He approached me with purpose, and then, without any introduction or explanation he asked, “So, you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling people’s driveways around here?”

All of my homeowner confidence suddenly seemed like an illusion.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/04/i-was-racially-profiled-in-my-own-driveway/360615/

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on January 26, 2015  9:57am

Elitist because his son worked hard to gain admittance to Yale? Elitist because he himself has worked hard to become a Times columnist? O elitist because he has the audacity to believe having a gun drawn on his son is beyond the pale?

Give me a break. If this had happened to one of your sons you’d be on the phone hiring William Dow to file suit against the university,  demanding that the officer and chief be reprimanded, and requesting compensation for your kid"s mental anguish.

Kudos to Blow for advocating for his son. Let’s hope that his “elitism” will help she’d light on a practice that is all too familiar for many Black and Brown kids in this city.

posted by: robn on January 26, 2015  11:46am

Criminals are known to shed or reverse clothing when fleeing a crime.

That’s being said, IF Yale PD was searching for an unarmed burglar, why draw a weapon on a suspect? That’s a recipe for accidental lead poisoning.

That being said, did Mr.Blow seriously forget his sons major? I would think the incredibly large, kick-in-groin biannual Yale tuition bill would be a very effective reminder.

posted by: CamilleS on January 26, 2015  12:16pm

As a Black Yale alum still living in New Haven, I have to call out that it’s not just racial profiling by the YPD and Yale Security—by which I’ve been stopped in my own former residential college for looking like I “didn’t belong there”—but a dominant culture of white exclusivity in which many, many students are complicit and which the university actively promotes through its treatment of the city.

I get that you want to be safe behind locked gates, walled off from the city that you think you aren’t a part of and that the university tells you to be wary of, and I get that it’s scary to have break-ins in your dorm. But this isn’t the first time I’ve heard about Yale students calling the police with vague descriptions of suspicious Black men, only to find out that those Black men are their classmates. I knew Black male students who had security called on them by other students while in their own dorms, or questioned by other students while trying to enter places on campus, or had doors locked on them by students pretending not to see them. I once was “joked” to about whether I was going to rob the post office (what does that even mean??), should someone extend the common courtesy of holding the door for me.

YPD acted inappropriately, as they often do in protecting Yale’s bubble downtown. But way too many of the times either the police or security show up profiling young Black people, it’s because they’ve been called by those people’s own classmates. I can’t imagine that this will stop anytime soon, as long as this culture of policing who does and doesn’t belong at Yale continues.

posted by: Noteworthy on January 26, 2015  1:20pm

Blow is mad because his son, a Yale student, was stopped. It begins and ends there and the middle part includes entitlement and arrogance. This article is biased and inflammatory and seriously short on facts to support such bias. If my son fit the description, was in the neighborhood and was treated the same way, I would not have the same reaction. Should Yale students be given a “Get out of jail card, don’t stop and ask questions card or maybe a Do you know who my dad is card?”

posted by: PH on January 26, 2015  1:29pm

Why does a report of burglary lead to questioning with a drawn gun? My guess is that if the description of the burglar had been a “white college-aged male” that no gun would EVER be drawn.  This is the fundamental problem, and why anyone with dark skin cannot stop being vigilant in the presence of an armed person—namely, the police.  I would like to see the NHPD begin to keep track of the number of times police draw their weapons and how often it is in response to something other than the pursuit of a suspect described as “armed and dangerous.”

posted by: vc man on January 26, 2015  1:39pm

His elitism stems from his attitude that because his son goes to Yale, he is automatically above the lowly serfs in uniforms. He started huffing and puffing on twitter before he knew anything beyond what his son told him. Had he inquired, he’d have known that the same suspect police were looking for had been reported to be carrying a handgun several days ago, which was why he was held at gunpoint. And note that he was unharmed because he complied with the officer’s lawful commamds. And yes, a suspect was arrested and charged with several felonies.

posted by: Threefifths on January 26, 2015  1:43pm

This is a good read.


The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Columnist
Library Visit, Then Held at Gunpoint
Charles Blow: At Yale, the Police Detained My Son

JAN. 26, 2015

This is how my son remembers it:

He left for the library around 5:45 p.m. to check the status of a book he had requested. The book hadn’t arrived yet, but since he was there he put in a request for some multimedia equipment for a project he was working on.

Then he left to walk back to his dorm room. He says he saw an officer “jogging” toward the entrance of another building across the grounds from the building he’d just left.

Then this:

“I did not pay him any mind, and continued to walk back towards my room. I looked behind me, and noticed that the police officer was following me. He spoke into his shoulder-mounted radio and said, ‘I got him.’

“I faced forward again, presuming that the officer was not talking to me. I then heard him say, ‘Hey, turn around!’ — which I did.

“The officer raised his gun at me, and told me to get on the ground.

“At this point, I stopped looking directly at the officer, and looked down towards the pavement. I dropped to my knees first, with my hands raised, then laid down on my stomach.

The officer asked me what my name was. I gave him my name.

“The officer asked me what school I went to. I told him Yale University.

“At this point, the officer told me to get up.”

The officer gave his name, then asked my son to “give him a call the next day.”

Feel Free to read the rest.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/26/opinion/charles-blow-at-yale-the-police-detained-my-son.html?smid=nytcore-iphone-share&smprod=nytcore-iphone&_r=2

In fact read the comment section.I like this comment

As a white parent with white children in college, this is not a scenario we worry about (as much). I feel for Mr. Blow and the dangerous climate black youths must adapt to. A big part of this is racial profiling.

posted by: Bobbe Bellamy on January 26, 2015  2:32pm

Sounds like someone “jumped” the gun in appending the FIRST tall, Africam Amer. guy wearing a black jacket and cap that CLOSELY matched the description of the suspect.  The REAL suspect, who was seen fleeing Trumbull College, was arrested shortly thereafter.  ........  People out there - this is an everyday common look (wear) for most AA people.  I promise you if you put the suspect and student Blow side-by-side you would see no facial resemblance at all: other than “perhaps” the clothing.  Wrong Place / wrong time I guess someone out there is saying.  But this is nothing but a case of racial profiling.  Many of my peple are either dead or behind bars due to mistaken idenity.  Blow Family start your law suit - legally attending college while Black.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on January 26, 2015  3:11pm

Mr/Ms Noteworthy,

“Arrogant” is the new “uppity”, for Black MEN, in particular.  Great use of that word here. How DARE this Black New York Times columnist “step out of his (socially assigned) place” by showing anger over the fact that a police officer, working for an institution to which this father pays THOUSANDS of dollars a year, pulled a gun on his son? 

HOW DARE HE? How ARROGANT of him.

I have rarely seen/heard the word “arrogant” applied to White people lately, not even to some White men, like, say Donald Trump, whose picture could be put in the dictionary to help define the word.

Black men in this country are supposed to accept prestigious roles in and at so-called elite institutions for the purposes of advancing the roles, lives, and perspectives of the dominate culture. How DARE this “arrogant” New York Times columnist use his access to a major media outlet to tell the story of his Black son’s encounter with a threat that thousands of us Black men face a year? 

THE NERVE OF HIM!

Good thing we have YOU to talk some sense into him, and place him firmly back in this “place”.

The Rev. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: robn on January 26, 2015  3:59pm

VCMAN

Whats your source of the information that the suspect was possibly armed? If true that changes things.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on January 26, 2015  6:22pm

@ebw

“if someone acts in a manor which warrents they feel they need to draw their weapon- then so be it.”

So one party in a confrontation is automatically, always, justified in their moves, no matter what the facts, no matter what the outcome?

Are you in favor of playing football and basketball by the same rules?  One of the teams gets unlimited fouls, and no ref is ever allowed to call any play against them, as long as they “feel” they needed to do that?

posted by: vc man on January 26, 2015  10:21pm

Robn, it was reported in some early versions of this story that the suspect was described by students as possibly having a handgun. So, I can see why YPD drew a gun. Also, does anyone have any comment on the now reported fact that the YPD officer was black himself? Doesn’t exactly fit the popular (false) narrative of innocent young black male vs racist white police officer.

posted by: Threefifths on January 26, 2015  11:06pm

posted by: vc man on January 26, 2015 9:21pm

Robn, it was reported in some early versions of this story that the suspect was described by students as possibly having a handgun. So, I can see why YPD drew a gun. Also, does anyone have any comment on the now reported fact that the YPD officer was black himself? Doesn’t exactly fit the popular (false) narrative of innocent young black male vs racist white police officer.

The officer, who himself is African American, was responding to a specific description relayed by individuals who had reported a crime in progress.

No one talk about a gun.

Even though the officer’s decision to stop and detain the student may have been reasonable, the fact that he drew his weapon during the stop requires a careful review. For this reason, the Yale Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit is conducting a thorough and expeditious investigation of the circumstances surrounding the incident, and will report the findings of that investigation to us. We, in turn, will share the findings with the community. We ask that you allow us the time needed to collect and examine the facts from everyone involved.

Salovey, Holloway, Higgins address Blow incident in campus-wide email.

http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2015/01/26/salovey-holloway-higgins-address-blow-incident-in-campus-wide-email/

posted by: Threefifths on January 26, 2015  11:11pm

posted by: vc man on January 26, 2015 9:21pm

Also,does anyone have any comment on the now reported fact that the YPD officer was black himself? Doesn’t exactly fit the popular (false) narrative of innocent young black male vs racist white police officer.

Now he has fleshed out the story. What bothered him, Blow writes in a column in Monday’s Times, isn’t that his son was stopped. But how he was stopped.

Notice at no time no talk about a racist white police officer.

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on January 27, 2015  12:00am

Mr/Ms. vc man,

Let me express, again, my TOTAL disrespect for someone who comes to online comment sections like this and refuse to use their names or otherwise reveal who the are, but so easliy spit opproprious comments about others.

There is no “false” narrative about innocent Blacks being accosted by racist White cops, but there are many true stories of such a thing happening.

Maybe if people like you, who are so quick to dismiss that fact, would actually pick up a book and read about the history of African-Americans’ ecounter with racism in the judicial system in America, a racism that often begins with our encounter with police officers, Black and White, then yu wouldn’t be so eager to make the ill-informed claims that you are making.

Your unwillingness (or inability?) to understand the BASIC facts mentioned above, makes me (and others) VERY hesitate to even attempt to explain to you the more complex issue of racist policies and actions perpetrated against Black people by other Black people.

Let’s just say this: I believe Clarence Thomas to be the most racist member of the Superme Court today.  All one has to do to advance racism is to believe in the superiority of one race over another and then act on that belief.  It is not unheard of for a person from a minority group to accept and adopt the perspectives of the dominate culture, even if doing so is detrimental to said persons own people. Black police officers who, for whatever reason, go along with a police culture defined by suspicion of Black men because we are Black men, do not escape the conditions and realities that promote said racism.

Simply put, Black cops can and have been racist against their own people.

The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: vc man on January 27, 2015  2:46am

3/5s, here:

“A Jan. 20 press release from New Haven Police Department Spokesperson David Hartman said the undergraduates had told investigators that one of the two men had a silver-colored handgun with which he threatened the undergraduates.”

http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2015/01/21/series-of-thefts-unnerved-trumbull-students/

posted by: Noteworthy on January 27, 2015  7:19am

Mr. Lee -

You comment doesn’t merit a response, but I’ll make an exception. There is a big difference in being arrogant and the racist term uppity. I often write about the arrogance of the powerful and privileged. The term has been applied to the governor, former Mayor DeStefano and Chief Esserman among others in the public and private space. It has never been used as a way to put a black man in his place. Your comment is as insulting as it is untrue.

Without full facts of the incident, Charles Blow went into auto-criticism, as so many do, that put the blame on police regardless of a full accounting of the facts and without full knowledge of them either. Blow’s kid was detained by a black cop and he fit the description for whom they were looking. Now Blow, a day late and tardily so, says its now the manner in which his kid was detained, not that he was. That’s revisionist criticism and much more nuanced. His new attack is “what if” his kid had been shot which is unknowable since he wasn’t.

posted by: Zachary on January 27, 2015  8:05am

Why are Yale “police” even armed anyway?? They are NOT “police.”  They are overblown security guards.  We seriously need to rein them in.  I am a Yale alum and I have witnessed tons of unprofessional conduct on the part of these “officer.”  The BEST thing the community can do is overwhelm the University Secretary with complaints.

posted by: wendy1 on January 27, 2015  8:37am

O K———So now you can scapegoat a black man for scapegoating a black man.

posted by: Threefifths on January 27, 2015  9:49am

posted by: vc man on January 27, 2015 1:46am

3/5s, here:

“A Jan. 20 press release from New Haven Police Department Spokesperson David Hartman said the undergraduates had told investigators that one of the two men had a silver-colored handgun with which he threatened the undergraduates.”

http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2015/01/21/series-of-thefts-unnerved-trumbull-students/

There is no talk about a gun in the yale daily.Also is the above report by David Hartman the same case?

posted by: vc man on January 27, 2015  10:01am

3/5s: that quote of Hartman was taken from the YDN link under it and was in reference to the rash of burglaries and robberies that occured within a short time period of a week or so, in the same area, targeting the same victims. Therefore, when YPD encountered a possible suspect it was not unreasonable to think the suspect might be armed (hence the drawing of the gun by the officer.)

posted by: Razzie on January 27, 2015  10:49am

Sorry vc man, that quote you offer refers to an incident nearly 1 week prior, in which several students were robbed at gun point by 2 AA males on bikes. There is no indication that that robbery occurred in or near the dorms and certainly did not involve unauthorized incursions into the dorm residences. I have to agree with 3/5th’s—that the officer responding to the Blow incident had no reason to assume that Blow was armed and dangerous at the time he was first encountered. If the YPD officer had simply asked for Blow’s ID “BEFORE” ordering him to the ground at gunpoint, this conversation would likely not be occurring.

posted by: robn on January 27, 2015  11:37am

Some questions:

1) Is it impossible or improbable that a successful robber might be emboldened shortly after a robbery to go a bit further into campus and commit thefts? My guess is unlikely because it’s a way different Modus Operandi but I wouldn’t call it impossible.

2) If the possibility exists, however remote, that an immediately recent theft suspect is armed, is it unreasonable for an officer to take precautions?

3) All that being said, and given the recent attention to Ferguson, why didn’t the chief tell dad in the first place that they were searching for a possibly armed suspect?

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on January 27, 2015  12:03pm

“Why are Yale ‘police’ even armed anyway??”

This is what I was wondering.  At the same time, Yale treats security guards pretty poorly.  Have you seen this: http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2014/12/02/firings-shed-doubt-on-univ-s-treatment-of-security-union/? 

“Should Yale students be given a ‘Get out of jail card, don’t stop and ask questions card or maybe a Do you know who my dad is card?’”

They are. The officer didn’t ask to see it until after he’d threatened the student with a gun.

“Simply put, Black cops can and have been racist against their own people.”

It’s some combination of fear and power that goes along with the job. The officer’s race doesn’t affect the legitimacy of the complaint.  It wasn’t terribly unreasonable to stop a student and check his ID; it was absolutely outrageous to aim a gun at him.

posted by: Threefifths on January 27, 2015  12:44pm

Can someone answer this question.The officer He spoke into his shoulder-mounted radio and said, I got him.How come he did not wait for back up?

posted by: Ozzie on January 27, 2015  1:39pm

I think a lot of people are missing the point here. First of all if the roles were reversed and Mr Blow’s son was the victim in this crime he would be applauding the police for the way they handled the incident ,  but on the other hand if the police did not catch the perpetrator. Mr. Blow would be complaining that the police are not doing enough to protect his son. It’s basically a no win situation when you deal with the rich and elite.
    As for the police officer pulling ( his or her)  gun on the suspect I’m all for it because in this day and age you can never be to careful. Just You tube the cop who went to the domestic and kept telling the suspect to take his hands out of his pockets and when he did the guy shot and killed the cop. But nobody really wants to hear about that do they ?

posted by: Frank Columbo on January 28, 2015  2:00am

Was Tajh Blow wearing a hat? He declined to elaborate, when contacted buy the Independent.Hmmm…

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on January 28, 2015  9:53am

Mike Brown deserved to be killed in the streets of Ferguson because he was a “thug” who had earlier shoplifted from a store and physically “attacked” the officer who shot him.

Eric Garner deserved to have an outlawed chokehold maneuver used on him by the NY Police, which ended HIS life, because he was illegally selling loose cigarettes and failed to submit to the FIVE cops who came to halt this society ruining infraction.

Mr. Blow, a junior at Yale University, one of the most exclusive universities, even in the Ivy League, was walking away from a visit to the library. Having done everything the dominate culture declares he should do (and at a high level, apparently) to be a productive member of society. He has not committed any crimes. He was not hanging out with the “wrong people”, unless we are to assume the librarians at Yale are throwing up gang signs. He was not drinking or drugging on the corner, giving police a “reason” to stop/frisk or question him. And he had a gun pulled on him by a Police Officer.

Let me say that again: HE HAD A GUN PULLED ON HIM BY A POLICE OFFICER.

Now, even with the set of facts listed above, many of you here have struggled to justify why the father of this model, law abiding Black kid, according to YOUR standards, should simply be ok with this. And even more so OK with it, because the officer was Black, as this piblication is quick to point out in a SEPARATE headline.

The independent may refuse to publish this comment, but the comments here are a case study in why many African-Americans are highly suspicious of White people’s claim to want justice and equality for ALL, if only the “thugs” would stop committing crimes, having uncared for babies, and get an education like all good Americans should.

If one needs to know where racial bias and hypocrisy reign, look no further than the comment sections of The New Haven Independent and The New Haven Register.

There one will find them.

The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

posted by: Frank Columbo on January 28, 2015  11:27am

Mr. Ross-Lee, No Michael Brown and Eric Garner did not deserve to be killed. Just because commenters in this forum question each situation to determine if the claim of police racial profiling has merit, it’s wrong to brand them as racially biased.

When White people get pulled over by police and State Troopers what blame shifting excuse do we have?

I’m a fair haired white male. My wife and I joked subsequent to the trooper incident that he was profiling men with long hair. Sometimes police are just doing their jobs.

posted by: Threefifths on January 28, 2015  11:54am

posted by: Frank Columbo on January 28, 2015 10:27am


When White people get pulled over by police and State Troopers what blame shifting excuse do we have?

The major of times white folks are pulled over,They do not face this.


Driving While Black

“Stop and frisk” isn’t just a reality in New York City. New data shows how police target African Americans on highways across America.

By Charles Epp and Steven Maynard-Moody


http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/january_february_2014/ten_miles_square/driving_while_black048283.php?page=all

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on January 28, 2015  12:27pm

You’re right Mr. Columbo. It’s just too bad that their job has included disproportionally stopping, frisking, pointing weapons at, arresting, shooting, and killing Black men.

The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee

P.S Please forgive me for being too subtle in making my point with the first two examples used.

posted by: breakingbad23 on January 28, 2015  2:44pm

posted by: Threefifths on January 28, 2015 10:54am

posted by: Frank Columbo on January 28, 2015 10:27am


When White people get pulled over by police and State Troopers what blame shifting excuse do we have?

The major of times white folks are pulled over,They do not face this.


Driving While Black

“Stop and frisk” isn’t just a reality in New York City. New data shows how police target African Americans on highways across America.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a police officer to determine a driver’s race on the highway? Let me guess, all these “Driving While Black” highway traffic stops occurred in perfect daylight conditions with perfect visibility? I’m sure they have some kind of “black” radar detector for all those night stops though…

posted by: Threefifths on January 28, 2015  3:34pm

posted by: breakingbad23 on January 28, 2015 1:44pm

Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a police officer to determine a driver’s race on the highway? Let me guess, all these “Driving While Black” highway traffic stops occurred in perfect daylight conditions with perfect visibility? I’m sure they have some kind of “black” radar detector for all those night stops though…

There are ways.You remeber this.

New Jersey internal records document widespread racial profiling of black and Hispanic motorists

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2000/12/race-d02.html

In fact read this.

Carl Williams, New Jersey’s Chief of Troopers, was dismissed in March 1999 by Governor Christine Todd Whitman soon after a news article appeared in which he defended profiling because, he said, “mostly minorities” trafficked in marijuana and cocaine. Williams’ remarks received wide media attention at a time when Whitman and other state officials were already facing heightened media scrutiny over recent incidents of profiling and public anger over police mistreatment of black suspects.

posted by: OldMomYoungChild on January 28, 2015  5:17pm

The race of the police officer has no relevance. There is something called institutional racism. There is something else called internalized oppression. There are police officers who are good at what they do and others whose primetime-cop-show fantasies should not be validated with a uniform. That this happened was extremely unfortunate, to say the least, and must be investigated further. Please don’t validate racial profiling by making headlines out of the police officer’s race.

http://oldmomyoungchild.com/2015/01/28/peace-out/

posted by: idabwells100 on January 29, 2015  7:50am

Hello Old Mom Young Child and others I want to ask how is it that you who were actually know the whole story. It is amazing how people who are not in law enforcement are so quick to tell others how to do their job without knowing the full context.  Just as with any case there are always more to what is actually being presented.  Who was this criminal they finally apprehended-how do you you know if he was dangerous or not. Charles Blow intentionally left race out from the beginning so that he could sensationalize this.  In America today race matters-yet it really should be racism that matters.  The entire incident is so sad and unfortunate and yet realistically Yale is in New Haven and has been for years been preyed upon by many criminals.  Ask the victims-how do you feel when someone who unfortunately this time is a black male is running around the campus terrorizing students.  Ask the families of these children who feel safer that now someone if caught and guess what many victims of all races have been the targets.  SAFETY on all college campuses is of paramount concern-we do not know what is required to maintain this. As an African American mother, wife, sister I am deeply aware of racial profiling as I have had to deal with it first hand. I have been absolutely outraged when any of my family members have had to deal with the sting of being racially profiled.  Also as a family who has police officers who are black I take offense that they who do have to deal with the unfortunate experience of dealing with numerous criminals who look like them and have to deal with the aftermath of being labeled racist is truly ignorant.  This is NOT Ferguson-no one is shot, no one was even detained and yes that does matter.  We have real police brutality cases please focus on them. And more importantly there are good cops and bad cops regardless of race.

posted by: Threefifths on January 29, 2015  2:32pm

posted by: idabwells100 on January 29, 2015 6:50am

. As an African American mother, wife, sister I am deeply aware of racial profiling as I have had to deal with it first hand. I have been absolutely outraged when any of my family members have had to deal with the sting of being racially profiled.  Also as a family who has police officers who are black I take offense that they who do have to deal with the unfortunate experience of dealing with numerous criminals who look like them and have to deal with the aftermath of being labeled racist is truly ignorant.  This is NOT Ferguson-no one is shot, no one was even detained and yes that does matter.  We have real police brutality cases please focus on them. And more importantly there are good cops and bad cops regardless of race.

So how come the good cops will not turn in the bad cops?The good cops know who the bad one’s are?I to have family who are police.In fact one of my family memeber is in the story.

Off duty, black cops in New York feel threat from fellow police


By Michelle Conlin

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/23/us-usa-police-nypd-race-insight-idUSKBN0K11EV20141223

This is NOT Ferguson-no one is shot, no one was even detained and yes that does matter.  We have real police brutality cases please focus on them. And more importantly there are good cops and bad cops regardless of race.

Thank god no one did.But what about next time?

posted by: yim-a on January 29, 2015  2:34pm

From a more or less neutral perspective (neither white nor black, no strong connections to law enforcement or black inner city youth),  the discussion on this specific incident seems to consist, on both sides, by platitudes, stereotypes,  emotional rhetoric, and cliché.  Seems like everyone rushes to their respective battle stations when incidents involving race, law enforcement and violence occur.  And so a type of cookie cutter approach to every incident, where “the facts” are interpreted and then rearranged to fit one or another’s narrative of choice.  If only leaders and opinion makers on both sides were to step back from their “narratives” and take each incident on its own terms before rushing to judgement.  Its like the doctor who hears a cough and assumes a common cold, when so much more might be going on.