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.


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