Yes, it happens in South Florida, too — and it shouldn’t. Black men pulled over, needlessly hassled by police officers who give the rest of their colleagues a bad name, who make no distinction when a suspect has no other description than ‘black male,’ who harass residents because they can. A North Miami Beach officer pulls over a black man in a suit and tie — and behind the wheel of an Audi that simply had to be stolen, right? In another Miami-Dade city, an officer demands that an African-American man installing a vegetable garden justify why he has a shovel and seedlings. Detained for possession of cilantro? Here are five South Floridians who tell of their experiences in this community and beyond, years ago, and all too recently.
“I test-drive cars for a show that I host, AutoFOCUS. I was pulled over in Coral Springs. There was one car, two cars, three cars — it looked like a cop convention going on. My wife was with me. She was in the back seat. I try to be a gentleman, and sometimes act like her chauffeur. They question her. I keep cool, hoping I don’t have one of those rogue cops, but they were shining a harsh light in her face, which I didn’t like. All the cops were white. But then an officer of color arrived. Suddenly, they were not as aggressive, not as authoritative. No ticket, no problem. That officer told me that none of this should have happened, and he apologized. When I talk to my male friends who are white, they say ‘I tell cops to mind their own f---ing business! I have a right to tell a cop to back off!’ Well, so do I, but I’m not stupid.”
Tony Lesesne is the chairman and co-founder of the Lesesne Media Group.