The National Black Lawyers

How a 'routine' stop almost ended a legal career before it began

November 18, 2019

police lightsBeing randomly stopped and questioned by police is nothing new for black men or women. But it almost ended one legal career before it even had a chance to start. At The Marshall Project, Johnathan S. Perkins writes about being stopped and questioned by police while walking across his law school campus in 2011.

I was walking home from a party on the evening of April 1, 2011, when I was stopped by two officers from the University of Virginia Police Department. They told me that I “fit the description” of a man they were looking for. Soon, I was pushed against their car as they searched my body for weapons and went through my wallet. Humiliated, I complied with their every command.

 

At the end of the encounter, which turned up nothing, the officers mocked me when I asked for their names and badge numbers. They refused to give me either but followed closely behind me in their patrol car as I hurried home.

Read more about Perkins' experience at The Marshall Project.

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