It was a perfect storm of progressive outrage: An African-American woman, the dean of a journalism school, was cruelly and needlessly accosted by a couple of racist Texas cops, just because she was walking down the street in her own neighborhood. They didn’t like a black woman walking around where she wasn’t supposed to be, huh? She didn’t know her place, is that it? Clearly, we still live in Emmett Till’s America.
Except that’s not at all what happened, and there’s video to prove it. Perry Chiaramonte, Fox News:
A Texas journalism professor’s explosive charge that police hassled her for “walking while black,” a claim lodged in a guest column in the state’s biggest newspaper, doesn’t square with the videotape, according to the police chief.
The incident occurred when Dorothy Bland, dean of the journalism school at the University of North Texas, was taking a power walk on the morning of Oct. 24 in her neighborhood in the northeast Texas town of Corinth. In a column in the Dallas Morning News four days later, the former newspaper editor described her encounter with two local cops in terms that put the police in a bad light…
“I guess I was simply a brown face in an affluent neighborhood,” Bland said in her column.
But dashcam video provided by Corinth Police shows Bland walking in the middle of the street, and captures the two police officers politely advising her to stay on the side of oncoming traffic, so she can see approaching cars.
Here’s the video:
You can read Bland’s Dallas Morning News account of the incident here. Does it sound anything like what you just saw and heard for yourself?
So, these cops got a report of a woman walking down middle of the street, oblivious to traffic. They calmly, politely and professionally warned her that she was endangering herself, they took down her name and address, and they went on their way. That was it.
Obviously, Bland heard what they were telling her, because she took their advice and moved to the other side of the street as she walked away. But it didn’t matter, because she’d already convinced herself she was a victim. She saw two white faces telling her something she didn’t want to hear, so it must’ve been racism.
It’s fine not to like cops. I don’t particularly like cops. (My only bad experiences have been with DC cops, admittedly. Pedestrians obeying the law in DC don’t stand a chance against agents of the State Department. But I try not to hold it against police officers in less corrupt areas.) A healthy distrust of authority is a good thing. But that doesn’t mean you can just make stuff up about them.
If it hadn’t been for this dashcam video, these two officers would be in big trouble right now. And it would send a message to other cops: If you see a black person who could use your help, just leave her alone or it could hurt your career.
As for Dorothy Bland? I hope she writes a follow-up. Maybe she can explain why her account of that morning is so very different from what really happened. Maybe she can use this experience in her very important work, molding the minds of the next generation of journalists. Maybe she’s learned a lesson herself about how bias can affect a person’s reporting.
You can learn more about Dean Bland’s life and work here. I’m surprised she can walk a straight line with that huge chip on her shoulder.