No, a Black Man in Michigan Was Not Racially Profiled by the Police Just for Walking with His Hands in His Pockets

michigancopWhile many liberal and conservative websites have devoted a large part of the last week covering the events that have gone on in Ferguson, liberal websites in particular have had a field day pushing just about any kind of anti-cop “story” that they can get their hands on. There are certainly legitimate stories related to Ferguson, the 12-year-old who was killed in Cleveland or other instances of questionable police behavior, but many of these stories I’ve run across lately are nothing more than a pathetic attempt at a money grab hoping to generate revenue by sensationalizing some non-story because it happens to involve a police officer.

Case in point, a story I’ve seen on many liberal and anti-cop websites about an African American male in Michigan who was questioned by a police officer.

Take a look at these three ridiculous headlines (there were many more, but these are just 3 examples):

  • Raw Story: African-American man stopped by Michigan cop for walking with his hands in his pockets.
  • Addicting Info: Michigan Police Suspect Black Man Of Wrongdoing For Walking In The Cold With His Hands In His Pockets (VIDEO)
  • Americans Against the Tea Party: Man Confronted By White Cop For ‘Walking While Black’ With Hands in Pockets (Video)

Now, was Brandon Mckean (the African American male involved in this story) stopped and questioned by a police officer in Michigan? Yes. So that part of these headlines is true, but that’s where the truth ends.

You see, these headlines would lead you to believe that this police officer was just driving around when he decided to racially profile an African American male to harass for no apparent reason, which isn’t true at all. The reason why the officer stopped Mr. Mckean is because someone (or possibly more than one person) had called the police because they felt he looked suspicious and was possibly casing the neighborhood. Being that a part of a police officer’s job is to respond to calls from citizens, when this officer approached Mckean he was simply doing his job.

Again, the only reason why this officer approached Mckean was because he was responding to calls residents had made to the police about a suspicious looking man. 

But these sites know as well as I do that quite a lot of people will either simply read only the headline, or the first one to two paragraphs, and that’s about it. So they knew sensationalized headlines such as these would drum up a lot of outrage, get a lot of views and generate a ton of revenue.

Heck, even Stephen Colbert ran the story on his show. Though he completely failed to mention that the police officer hadn’t just randomly stopped Mckean to harass him but instead he was responding to calls to the police made by local residents. Again, if there’s racism to be found in this story it’s found in those who called the police, not the police officer who was simply responding to those calls.

First, why is this even a story? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. I know why these, and several other sites, ran this “story.” Because it involves a white cop and an African American male – and that’s basically it. There was no confrontation, the video was only about 70 seconds in length and the “moral” of the story is really about someone (or possibly more than one person) in that neighborhood being an idiot(s) for calling the police simply because they saw an African American male with his hands in his pockets on a cold day. The stupidity (and possible racism) of this “story” had absolutely nothing to do with the police officer involved. It was simply a cop responding to a call(s) that was made in a neighborhood where there had been reports of an individual who caller(s) thought appeared suspicious.

And while it might be safe to assume that racism from residents in that neighborhood played a part here, there’s really no evidence that proves that. For all we know the person(s) who called might have been African American. As the officer told Mckean, they had recently seen a string of robberies in the area.

Though these headlines made it seem as if some racist white cop racially profiled an African American male for simply “walking while black.” It’s utterly ridiculous.

This kind of stuff really pisses me off. There’s already enough racial tension, anti-cop sentiment and struggles that we’re dealing with in this country without trash stories such as this one being overly sensationalized hoping to stir up fear for the sake of revenue.

And if anything this “story” shows that not all cops are bad. Though I’m sure some who are just out to bash cops for any reason will say “good thing Mckean was filming him or this could have ended much worse.” Those people I’m not even bothering with. To them any video evidence of good cop behavior will always be because they were being filmed.

But instead of either ignoring this “story” altogether (because it’s not really newsworthy) or using it as an example where a police officer and African American male had a respectful encounter, both Addicting Info and Americans Against the Tea Party decided to push the lie that the cop was “harassing” Mckean, when all the officer was doing was responding to a call.

What a horrible police officer, right? How dare he respond to calls made by citizens in a neighborhood, confront the man who they called about – then go on to treat him with respect when he quickly realized that these calls were completely bogus.

These stories are the kind of over-sensationalized garbage that do nothing but cause more problems. At a time where “our side” should be trying to find ways to fix the tension between law enforcement officers and ordinary citizens (especially African Americans), sites such as these are exploiting that tension, and in fact making it worse, by overly dramatizing non-stories such as these all for the sake of a quick buck.

They’re not offering solutions to very real problems that need to be addressed in this country, they’re simply fear-mongering for profit. You know, just like Fox News and the conservative media.

The video of the encounter is posted below:

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • GenerallyConfused

    While I haven’t read those articles myself, I will say there are always extremes.. does not matter how you vote or who you pray to.

  • Bryce Davis

    People are so anxious about wanting to be a part of “social justice and civil disobedience they try to say situations are racist when they aren’t. Michael Brown was a would be cop killer, not an innocent, bad choice for the poster child. Pick the kid in Cleveland!!!!!!!!

    • E.j. Turner

      A would be cop killer? Really? Guess you’ve never been in a racist situation. I mean one in which racism was being directed at you. Obviously you’ve been in situations in which you were the racist. Based on your statement.

    • Timothy Jacob Jones

      I’m not sure I’d make that leap of a statement. Wilson had virtually no injuries. I’ve been school fights more punishing than what he was in. If your medical examination post fight for your life is summarized by “bruise on cheek” you were not in danger of dying.

      • RandomDude

        The danger was if he got the gun. So it was a “fight for his life”. Guns are a danger to your life. Your bias is showing when you don’t see the obvious.

  • Yates M

    The issue wasn’t about the cop stopping McKean, but rather that the assumption made by the 911 caller(s) was that McKean was up to no good. McKean even mentions the 911 call(s) in the video. The officer doesn’t say there were reports of a guy peeking in house or car windows, or walking through backyards – just that people were made “nervous” at the sight of McKean walking with his hands in his pockets. Had he been engaged in actual suspicious activity the officer would have mentioned it when he stopped him. The officer isn’t the problem here; whoever called 911 is (IF McKean wasn’t acting truly suspicious).

  • Nancy B

    The video angered me because of the citizens who called, not because of the cop. It was apparent on the video that the cop was responding to a call. I felt the cop and McKean were both very respectful, even though McKean was angry, and probably rightfully so. I didn’t forward it because I did not know the full story. Given that there had been robberies in the area, was he walking in a way or in a place that made people suspicious? (ie, would they have called even if it had been a white guy?). We simply don’t know.

  • Sandra Mason

    the issue was, would this man have been called out if he had been white? the answer is, probably not. the cop did get loud, as well, talking over the man. he tried to justify by saying ‘we’ve had a lot of burglaries’, which would have gone over better if he’d said, ‘sorry to bother you, but…’ — in other words, treat him like the cop would want to have been treated himself. and maybe, just maybe, the 911 dispatcher should have queried the caller further, to determine just ‘what’ the suspious (because black?) man was doing wrong. Your rant doesn’t work in this instance, Allen, within the context.

    • Timothy Jacob Jones

      I have to agree, this is the same kind of situation that happened to the man in Beavercreek who was mowed down by cops responding to a hyped up 911 call about a black man when the walmart security footage disproves the call.

      It’s the responsibility to police officer to respond yes, and in this instance there was no shooting thankfully, but it easily could have. I do agree that 911 dispatchers need to probe more for information, but cops also need to feel out the situation themselves. They have established procedures and laws governing their actions permissible in given situations. They were thankfully followed in this case and all we have are a hollow news headline instead of another body count statistic.

  • Brian Novotny

    I call bs, maybe the story was over-sensationalized but the fact of the matter is that the cops were called due to the fact he was a black man, plain and simple which just proves the point of how racially divided this nation actually is, and that is something that is taught and learned and even since MLK and the civil rights movement in the 60’s is still as strong if not stronger than ever.

  • OKina Alford

    The only reason anyone would assume he was “casing” the neighborhood is because he’s black!! So yes, he was indeed racially profiled! If a white man was walking down the street minding their own business no one would assume he was casing the neighborhood!! He was racially profiled in the same way Trayvon Martin was racially profiled! Black men walking down the street are suspicious! It’s a shame that so many people are completely oblivious to the realities of today. This is real and these things are happening! People are dying for this same mess!

    • Sherri G

      He was racially profiled by the 911 caller and not the cop …..the cop was simply doing his job which was responding to a call of a suspicious person.

      • Sherri Lucas-Gibson

        Just like the guy playing with the toy gun in walmart.. He was carrying a toy in an open carry state but that made a white person so scared they called 911 and the police were so scared they shot him.. Pitiful.. Too many people are proving that old adage.. The only thing you have to fear is fear it self.. unless you are black of course.. Then you have to fear putting your hands in your pockets and being thought suspicious.

      • springerj

        Walmart? You mean the kid at the playground, don’t you?

      • Jennifer King

        The incident at Walmart was a story from earlier this year where 2 white assholes called the police and said there was a black man waving a gun around. This cause a panic and the innocent black man that was carrying and toy gun to purchase was shot and killed and the 2 assholes who made the scene were charged with murder.

      • springerj


      • jeanlingelbach

        The man who called 911 lied to dispatch. He should be brought up on charges. He essentially got the customer killed by his misinformation.

      • ANB2013

        If you email the Oakland sheriffs department about this incident, as I did, you will get a long reply that says that Mckesn was reportedly walking back and forth in one of a store, and looking in the window. The email comes with a pdf transcript of the 911 call.

      • Sharon Wilson

        Ok so what

      • OKina Alford

        I agree with that. I didn’t say the cop racially profiled. I said that this man was racially profiled….and he was. Whether it was the cop or the business owner, the fact still remains that this man was stopped and questioned for walking down the street looking suspicious (aka looking black).

  • Lorraine Luciano-Mckeon

    I hate to say it, but websites like your own seem to be more than happy to jump on the “white cops are all racist” bandwagon. i’m sorry for Michael brown’s family’s loss, but he has been (inappropriately, imo) held up by 99% of the left-leaning sites and organizations as some poster child for racism gone wild, and the unfortunate result is that that has only fueled the racists.

  • E.j. Turner

    Mr. Watson is certainly entitled to his point of view. Not every person regardless of race has had the same experiences. Since I was a youth I’ve seen unarmed black boys and men killed by white police officers. I’ve lived in Mobile back in 1980 when a young black teenager was lynched from a tree not more than 5 blocks from where I was living. So yeah Mr. Watson has his views but I have mine.

  • toadmaster

    That the residents of this neighborhood called the police because they saw him walking through their neighborhood is absolutely the problem. That the police officer didn’t recognize their calls as absurd, is also a problem, whether or not he was following orders or not. This country has problems, and really needs to grow up.

  • springerj

    We only have the cop’s word that there was a 911 call and that there had been a lot of burglaries in the area. Since he saw that he was being recorded, he might well have made that all up to sound better.

    Did Allen Clifton verify that one or more 911 calls had indeed been made regarding this person? Did he verify that there had been a lot of burglaries? For that matter, did any of the other websites that promoted this story do any checking?

  • Jillz

    The police can’t pick and choose which calls they follow up on, and the 911 Dispatcher is nowhere near the scene, so must go by what the voice on the other end of the phone is saying. If anyone was profiling, it was the person who made the 911 call in the first place.

  • Bob Setliff

    Cops would not have been called if the man had been White! So this racist web site needs to get over themselves!

  • Yvonne Clayton-Schinkel

    And who told you that a worried resident(s) called the thugs?…Often the excuse they use is “We have a lot of robberies/burglaries lately” but there is no proof of it!!Not that long ago a guy was stopped in his own neighborhood walking to his car a former thug and now firefighter..when 4 0r 5 thugs stopped him, being very rude and not answering his question why they stopped him as to say they don’t need a minute the sergeant came up..telling the guy they had a lot of robberies/burglaries lately and he fit the description…white guy approx. 6’3..blackshorts white t-shirt!The guy they stopped was a black guy..5/8 or9…fair is shorts and dark grey t-shirt!!!
    He knew what he was talking about..he knew his rights…he knew how thugs “operate”!!..Even people in that neighborhood told the thugs straight away he wasn’t the guy…they were told to go inside!!Thugs overall are dickheads who have an ego/integrity/honesty problem…they think their shit smell like roses when in reality their whole being smells like sewer rats!!

  • Casey

    Allen, you completely missed the point. The police officer is not required by law to stop and question someone just because some bigot is afraid of black people. In fact, racial profiling is unconstitutional, but the police officer is conditioned – as apparently you are – to value the unfounded fears of white people over the constitutional rights of a black man. Just because the officer himself doesn’t intend to be racist doesn’t mean his actions aren’t racist. The man who posted this video did so to illustrate what it is like to be black in the USA, and it certainly served that purpose. You haven’t debunked anything here.

  • boblgumm

    Forward progressives is the entity guilty of getting up on its high horse. Or did they forget that a black man is dead (the guy in the walmart with the toy or bb gun) because some dumb ass lied about just how suspicious his behavior was. So what that a civilian citizen felt this dude was suspicious. The cop is the professional whose job it is to accurately (constitutionally) assess situations. That cop failed. The three websites cited headlines were accurate. Forward Progressives is guilty of baseless grand standing.

  • Johnny Kain

    “Again, the only reason why this officer approached Mckean was because he was responding to calls residents had made to the police about a suspicious looking man.”

    You fail to explain what made him look suspicious. I am very interested in your explanation.

  • Greg Billings

    If the man did not make an illegal move, the man should be left alone. The police can come to the scene, make an assessment of the legality/illegality of the man’s action. If there is nothing illegal going on, move on. What the hell is “casing” anyway? Some people have been watching too many cop shows.

  • chrissy9848

    We all knew what happened by watching the video , I don’t see your point , it doesn’t change a thing , He was treated like a criminal period

  • Sanad H

    So you wrote an article to deny something but all you did was confirm it.