Exchanges between black youths and the police don’t always have to end in violence.
What began as an unfortunate incident of alleged police profiling in Princeton, N.J., ended with a public-forum discussion with the officer who did the profiling.
According to one member of the Black Youth Project 100, or BYP100, a youth-centered black activist group, the police pulled over a car carrying members who were leaving a gathering on Princeton University’s campus on Saturday, March 8. The black officer cited a broken taillight, but upon investigation the vehicle was found to be intact.
The unidentified officer let the group go after asking them where they were headed and saying that he would “beat them there,” Fresco Steez, one of the members present at the incident, told The Root. It was when the members arrived at the Nassau Hotel and actually saw the officer pulled up there waiting for them that the discussion was triggered.
The group approached him, questioning the motive for his actions. The officer insisted that he wasn’t trying to criminalize the black youths and said that his feelings were hurt at the accusation. But then the officer offered the young people free parking as an apology, which got a conversation started.
The video below shows about half a dozen young black people huddled around the police car, talking to the black officer about why his actions had hurt them.
“You guys have a responsibility to protect and serve,” 24-year-old Devin Darrington-Ward can be heard telling the officer. “As black youth we don’t feel like we get that level of protection; we don’t get that benefit of the doubt … like regular white students running around Princeton campus [do].”
At the end of the video, the same young man can be seen thanking the officer for his time and taking the initiative to talk to them about the incident.
“It’s a healthy dialogue,” Steez said in the video. “This is the healthiest dialogue between just a public police and young black people that I’ve ever seen. And that’s transformative justice right there in the flesh.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the BYP100 members attending the gathering at Princeton as Princeton students.
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