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Nothing will stop cops from profiling Black people, even if you are a pastor.
According to Journal Sentinel, Baptist ministers Demetrius Williams and John Patterson were driving through Jefferson County, Wisconsin in May. They were headed back to Milwaukee after fishing. Around noon, a tire on the boat trailer went flat. They pulled over to the shoulder on the highway, called the insurance company and a tow truck was scheduled to arrive within 40 minutes.
However, a patrol car pulled up instead. Patterson told The Sentinel, “We thought maybe he was going to put out some cones or something.” But an officer, identified as Deputy Erik Michalsen, questioned if they had guns or drugs in the vehicle. They said no, they were pastors.
Journal Sentinel reports, “Next, he asked for both men’s driver’s licenses — standard procedure, he said. He returned the licenses about 10 minutes later, slapped an orange sticker on the boat.” Williams explained, “We’re pastors, driving home from fishing, and yet we’re treated with suspicion when we should have been offered assistance.”
Patterson added, “We were just stranded” and rather than assistance, they “got background checked and treated like criminals because we’re African-American men. We drove home feeling violated.”
The pastors aren’t complaining, they are doing something. Common Ground, a faith-based community action group, “is launching its own investigation into possible racial profiling by the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department,” reports Journal Sentinel. “It held a news conference outside the Waukesha County Courthouse on Monday to present Williams’ and Patterson’s account, and ask other drivers to share their experiences with Waukesha County deputies.”
Earlier this month, “the captain responded in writing it was Michalsen’s practice to ask every driver he approaches about guns, and his other actions were appropriate.” The captain also claimed “racially biased policing ‘is not trained, condoned or tolerated.’” They denied race was involved.
However, Common Ground has not been able to get a meeting with the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department.
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