Police pulled a Princeton University professor over for speeding on Saturday afternoon and then arrested her because of an outstanding parking ticket from three years ago.
Perry’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day began around 9:30 a.m. as she was on her way to an academic symposium. A pair of Princeton, N.J. police officers pulled her over for speeding, Perry said.
Upon routinely running Perry’s license, the unidentified officers discovered an outstanding warrant for Perry’s arrest. The warrant was issued, police say, because Perry’s driver’s license was suspended in 2013 — and a $130 fine was imposed — over a parking violation.
The fancypants professor was consequently arrested — handcuffs, back of the squad car, the whole nine yards.
“Perry had an active warrant that had been issued for her arrest by the Princeton Municipal Court,” Princeton Police spokesman Jonathan Bucchere told NBC News. “Perry was taken into custody pursuant to the warrant and was released after posting the required bail.”
Perry, a celebrity professor frequently cited by MSNBC, was not happy about her arrest and the way she was treated. She complained about it in a series of tweets after her release.
Police did not allow Perry to make any telephone calls before she was officially placed under arrest, she says. She was subject to a brief frisking by a male police officer. Also, the professor claims, a cop handcuffed her to a table at the police station.
On Monday, Perry wrote a 1,201-word Facebook treatise reflecting on her experience and trying to tie it to a grand civil rights struggle.
“This was my first time in handcuffs,” Perry wrote. “They were very cold on my arthritic wrists. I have been thinking about how vulnerable they make you feel.”
Perry criticized people who believe she is “playing ‘innocent.'” “Now, make no mistake, I do not believe I did anything wrong. But even if I did, my position holds. The police treated me inappropriately and disproportionately. The fact of my blackness is not incidental to this matter.”
The Princeton professor then managed to cite institutionalized racism “from elementary school suspensions, to car purchases, to teachers recommending students for gifted and talented programs, to how often waiters visit your table in restaurants, to mortgages, to police stops and arrests.”
“Some critics have said that I should have expected what I received,” Perry also said in her Facebook fulmination. “But if it is the standard protocol in an affluent suburb to disallow a member of the community to make a call before an arrest (simply to inform someone of her arrest) and if it is the protocol to have male officers to pat down the bodies of women, and if it is the norm to handcuff someone to a table for failing to pay a parking ticket, we have a serious problem with policing in the society.”
Perry was ultimately able to pay her fine “without hesitation” to secure her release. Nevertheless, she compared her fate to “poor Black, Indigenous, and Latino communities to experience disproportionate police surveillance, harassment, violence, and punishment.”
“I can say that what I experienced was far more likely because my skin is a deep brown, my nose is round, and my hair is coily,” Perry claimed.
The chairman of Princeton’s African American studies department, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., suggested that it was probably unnecessary to arrest Perry on the spot the way the police did.
“I understand the law, but the failure to use discretion in this instance is mind numbing,” Glaude wrote in a statement obtained by The Daily Princetonian.
“This is the kind of unnecessary escalation that is bound up with the unseemly work of generating revenue through parking tickets,” Glaude also observed.