When a black studies professor from an Ivy League university was pulled over, what would have been a simple arrest became a maze of allegations.
Professor Imani Perry was arrested for speeding, having a suspended license, as well as open arrest warrant for a three-year-old parking ticket.
“The police treated me inappropriately and disproportionately,” the Princeton professor wrote in a lengthy Facebook post, which she has since taken down. “The fact of my blackness is not incidental to this matter.”
“There are a number of commentators online who have repeated to me an all-too-common formulation: ‘Well, if you hadn’t done anything wrong, this wouldn’t have happened.’ But this demand for behavioral perfection from Black people in response to disproportionate policing and punishment is a terrible red herring,” she wrote.
The Princeton police are not taking criticism from the college and Perry lying down. They released the full 30-minute video that shows Perry’s arrest. The video shows officers speaking calmly and politely to Perry throughout the incident.
“What you’re going to have to do is come with us, it’s $130, so if you have that money we’ll be able to post and we’ll be able to get you right back out,” one officer said to Perry during the video.
Perry was initially stopped for driving 67 mph in a 45 mph zone, according to Capt. Nicholas K. Sutter, the department chief. He said all departmental procedures were followed to the letter in the incident, and that Perry had to be arrested because of the open warrant.
After she arrived at the police station, police handcuffed Perry to a workstation, Sutter said. She texted that she was handcuffed to a desk.
“Every single person brought back there is secured while the officer is processing,” he said, adding that exceptions were made if for injured suspects. He said the process during which Perry would have been handcuffed usually lasts 15 minutes. He said she was at the station for about an hour.
“I don’t want to sound in any way like I am being defensive or arguing that Dr. Perry is not entitled to feel the way she does,” Sutter said. “We are part of the larger law enforcement community in our current times in law enforcement. Therefore I understand how in this climate we can be perceived to be a microcosm of that.”
BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.