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Monday, April 2, 2012

Tyler Perry says he was racially profiled by police

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 4:37 PM

Director. Actor. Producer. Victim.
You'd imagine Tyler Perry would be a recognizable figure. Especially in Atlanta, where I'd venture to guess you'll find the highest concentration of billboards and bus ads for the movie Good Deeds, ads in which Perry figures prominently (by which I mean the ads are literally just a picture of him).

But according to a long narrative he posted on his Facebook page yesterday, Perry was not recognized by a couple of white police officers during a recent traffic stop. He says he believes he was racially profiled, and then let go once a black officer showed up and told the white officers who he was.

It's unclear in the narrative by which local police department he was pulled over — since he was on his way to the airport, there are a few different jurisdictions he might have been in — but the APD says it's is looking into whether its officers were involved.

Here's Perry's story, edited (just barely) for length ...

A few days before President Obama was supposed to speak at my studio, I was leaving the studio, headed to the airport. Most times when I leave the studio I have an unmarked escort. Other times I constantly check in my rearview mirror to be sure that I'm not being followed. It's a safety precaution that my security team taught me.

As I got to an intersection, I made a left turn from the right lane and was pulled over by two police officers. I pulled the car over and put it in park. Then, I let the window down and sat in the car waiting for the officer. The officer came up to the driver's door and said that I made an illegal turn. I said, "I signaled to get into the turning lane, then made the turn because I have to be sure I'm not being followed." He said, "Why do you think someone would be following you?" Before I could answer him, I heard a hard banging coming from the passenger window. I had never been in this position before so I asked the officer who was at my window what was going on and why is someone banging on the window like that. He said, "let your window down, let your window down. Your windows are tinted." As I let down the passenger window, there was another officer standing on the passenger side of the car. He said, "what is wrong with you?" The other officer said to him, "He thinks he's being followed." Then, the second officer said, "why do you think someone is following you? What is wrong with you?"

Before I could answer the officer on the passenger side, the one on the driver's side had reached into the car and started pulling on the switch that turns the car on and off, saying, "Put your foot on the brake, put your foot on the brake!" I was so confused as to what he was doing, or what he thought he was doing. It looked like he was trying to pull the switch out of the dashboard. I finally realized that he thought that switch was the key, so I told him that it wasn't the key he was grabbing. I reached down into the cup holder to get the key, not realizing that the key had a black leather strap on it.

As I grabbed it they both tensed up and I dropped it as I heard my mother's voice from when I was a little boy. My mother would always say to me, "if you get stopped by the police, especially if they are white policemen, you say "yes sir" and "no sir," and if they want to take you in, you go with them. Don't resist, you hear me? Don't make any quick moves, don't run, you just go."

[...] It wasn't until after I heard her voice that I realized that both of these officers were white. The officer on the driver's side continued to badger me, "why do you think someone is following you?" I then said, "I think you guys need to just write the ticket and do whatever you need to do." It was so hostile. I was so confused. It was happening so fast that I could easily see how this situation could get out of hand very quickly. I didn't feel safe at all. But one officer stopped his questioning and said, "We may not let you go. You think you're being followed, what's wrong with you?" At this point, I told him that I wanted to get out of the car. I wanted the passersby to see what was happening. As I stepped out of the car another officer pulled up in front of my car.
This officer was a black guy.

He took one look at me and had that "Oh No" look on his face. He immediately took both officers to the back of my car and spoke to them in a hushed tone. After that, one of the officers stayed near his car while one came back, very apologetic.

I said all of that to say this: do you see how quickly this could have turned for the worse? Now I know that there are many great officers, patrolmen and security guys out there. I am aware of that. But although we have made significant strides with racial profiling in this country, the world needs to know that we are still being racially profiled [...]

Perry goes on to discuss both the Trayvon Martin case, and another Fla. case in which a black man and a Mexican man went missing after they were placed under arrest by a police officer in Naples.

At the moment, 19,487 people have commented on the post and 109,609 people have "liked" it.

UPDATE: APD investigating Tyler Perry incident

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