If things went down as rapper MC Hammer says they did, then we have a pretty clear-cut case of racial profiling by a California police officer. And boy did he pick the wrong guy to profile.
It started last week when Hammer, whose real name is Stanley Burrell, was arrested in Dublin, Calif., on charges of obstructing an officer in the performance of their duties and resisting and officer. It seemed a little out of character for the former rapper who has since become an ordained minister, but after Hammer's side came out, it makes a whole lot more sense.
He took to Twitter this weekend, and unleashed on the arresting officer to his 3.1 million followers. By his account, things were not legit at all.
He started by saying, "Sometimes in life you choose to "Fight" and other times the "Fight" chooses you. Dignity is not a crime." Then he explained that a "chubby elvis looking dude" pulled him over and tapped on his window. The first thing he said to Hammer when he rolled down his window was, "Are you on parole or probation?"
Say what? I've been pulled over several times in my life, and no one has ever asked me that. How about you? That then set the tone for the rest of what went down. He wrote:
While I was handing him my ID he reached in my car and tried to pull me out the car but forgot he was on a steady donut diet. ..
It was comical to me until he pulled out his guns, blew his whistle and yelled for help (MallCop) !!! But make no mistake he's dangerous ..
I will now answer his question, contrary to his personal beliefs, all people of color are not on parole or probation fat boy !!!
So while he did get a little snarky, in the end, he said he's not bitter. Instead he said he's going to use it as a "teachable moment" and "eye opener" for his friends and colleagues. Good for him.
Of course, there are always two sides to every story. Sheriff's Lt. Herbert Walters confirmed Hammer's arrest for the Los Angeles Times and said he was taken into custody when police realized his vehicle's registration was expired and wasn't registered to him. He said, "Hammer became very argumentative when questioned about the vehicle. He refused to exit the vehicle when the officer asked him to and continued to argue."
But if it happened as Hammer says it did, then his being argumentative is understandable. Police have officers have an amazingly difficult and dangerous job, and in many cases they have to use their best judgement in what could potentially be a dangerous situation. But that doesn't excuse them from treating all people equally regardless of any stereotypes or preconceived notions they may have. Sadly this likely happens every day across the country to people who don't have the platform to spread the word about it. So while it's unfortunate if it did indeed happen to Hammer as he says, it could also help shed a light on the problem and spark more discussion about this shameful practice.
Do you think this was an incident of racial profiling?
Image via Julie Ryan Evans