Driving While Black (DWB)

Yesterday, while driving home from work, I made a right turn and merged into oncoming traffic. All of a sudden, the car beside me flips on the lights and hits the siren. The policeman sped off. I assume he either thought I was about to hit him or he just wanted to mess with me. This incident brought back memories of two previous incidents involving our local law enforcement.

Incident One:

I usually take a back road home that goes by our local airport. On the route home, at a particular intersection, there is a Stop sign if you’re turning left, and a Yield sign if you’re turning right. I was making a right turn and slowed down just enough to safely make the turn. Because this was at night, I didn’t need to stop because I could see that there were no cars coming. This happened as a policeman was coming up to the intersection from the right. After I made the turn (without stopping), he made a U-turn and began to chase me down. I saw him coming so I proceeded to slow down and then he turned on his lights.

Once he got to my vehicle, and received my license and registration, he asked why I didn’t stop at the intersection. I responded that there was a Yield sign and there was no oncoming traffic. He said that wasn’t a valid excuse. I was supposed to stop. So I asked “when does yield mean stop? I don’t have to stop at a yield sign.” We went back and forth over this for a minute or so. Finally, he told me to drive safely and that I could leave.

Incident Two:

A few weeks ago, while going to work, I took a side street to avoid traffic. When I got to the stop sign, there was a policeman there. After he pulled off, I pulled up to the sign, stopped, and then pulled off. The policeman was going about 25 in a 45 zone, so I switched lanes and passed him. About half-a-mile later, he pulled up beside me at a red light. Once the light turned green, I pulled off and he switched lanes to get behind me and turned on his lights.

After he looked over my license and registration, he asked why I didn’t stop at the stop sign. I told him, “Sir, I thought I did stop at the sign.” He responded that I didn’t and then went on a tirade about obeying traffic signs and how it only takes three seconds for oncoming traffic to get up on you. He then asked if my loved ones would be grief-stricken if something happened to me. I answered “of course.” He then told me to make sure I pay attention and keep that in mind. Once again, I was let go with just a “warning”.

Now, my question is, if I ran a stop sign, why did he wait half-a-mile and AFTER a red light changed to pull me over. Maybe he noticed that I was black after he pulled up beside me at the light. Regardless, I had done nothing wrong in either incident. But once again, these two “protectors” decided to teach me traffic laws.

My wife was none too pleased when I told her what happened. Even though I was fine, but annoyed, she was pissed. It’s sad that this still goes on in 2007. But you know what the kicker was? When I got to work, I told my white co-workers that I was pulled over for DWB and explained that it meant “Driving While Black.” They all laughed because they assumed I was making a joke. I guess the serious look on my face told them otherwise.

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