So, a black male, sitting in his car, reading a book is suspicious activity. Good to know.
—Louizandre Dauphin, 2016
No, the cop didn’t beat him. In fact, he was, by Dauphin’s description, “kind and respectful.” Then again, this happened in Canada, where people apologize after committing murder, so it’s hard to be sure what to make of that.
Aside from the pictures of Dauphin, which are simply spectacular, showing on the one hand that he looks like a pretty upstanding guy when he’s got on the uniform of “a small New Brunswick’s city’s director of parks, recreation and tourism.” Yep, that’s right. He’s one of them, an official guy, title and all.
And what was he doing when Dudley Do-Right approached?
I decided to take a drive to the Stonehaven Wharf and sit by the water on this cold, rainy July day and try to pacify my mind by reading the works of Timothy Keller and C.S. Lewis.”
Dauphin said that he was sitting by the ocean for a couple of hours and decided to drive back home. He sees the police car speed past him and then another one come up behind him.
Much as reading C.S. Lewis could be viewed as a low-level offense, it’s not. No really. And yet, the mounties show up.
He said that the officer was “kind and respectful,” given the circumstances. “He smiles and says that a few citizens in Janeville called the police because of a suspicious black man in a white car was parked at the Wharf for a couple hours. My response, ‘Really? I was just reading a book.’ He smiles, shrugs and replies, ‘Well, you know, it’s a small town.’ And proceeds to ask me for my license. He verifies my information and sends me on my way.”
There are two problems here. First, that some good and mind-numbingly sensitive person called the cops upon seeing a black man “parked at the Wharf for a couple hours.” If that’s not suspicious, then what is? After all, black. Man. Reading? It doesn’t get more suspicious than that, right?
But then, the police get this call and, rather than tell the caller, “thank you for your concern” and have a good laugh at the idiocy, or even, “you realize that black guys are allowed to read books on the Wharf and it doesn’t make them suspicious, right?”, the cops investigate. Because, well, you know.
Dauphin’s reaction? Priceless.
Oh, come on. How can you not love that look?
And, as might be suspected, even though Dauphin is an official guy, a former high school English teacher (in Canada, I believe they teach English as a foreign language), this isn’t the first time he’s been pegged as a #DangerousNegro.
This isn’t the first time, however, the CBC reports. About five years ago, he was stopped by police in his own neighborhood, just a few doors down from his house. The officer asked him what he was doing there and for his ID. When the officer returned Dauphin asked him if he’d done anything wrong. The officer said “no” and let him go.
“It was just another reminder that you can be a suspect in your neighbourhood,” Dauphin said.
A suspect of what? Putting aside the legal differences between our two neighbouring (yes, I deliberately included the needless “u”) nations, there remains a perception problem we share, that black guys in places where white people, and sometimes other black people, don’t expect to find black guys or don’t think they really belong are inherently suspicious.
It can be confusing that I scoff at microaggressions and the “violence” of totally benign words that, when filtered through the SJW lens, magically turn into weapons of mass destruction. After all, at the same time, I acknowledge the existence of white privilege, or black detriment, to be more precise. How can that be?
There is a meaningful gap between claiming to be traumatized by everything that, after a thorough searching for hidden hurt, makes you sad and having one’s right to be left alone by the police honored. Do nothing wrong, as conceded by the police, and they don’t get to question you, demand an explanation for your presence, not to mention existence, or verify your identity. What’s your name? “Bite me, officer, that’s my name.” If there is no basis to be bothered by a cop in the first place, then nothing that follows is justified, no matter how “odd” it may appear to the caller who saw something and said something.
Many are annoyed by the resort to the “race card” whenever something like this happens. This may be asking too much of the thinking challenged, but there are times when it is about race. This is such a time. There are certainly times when attribution of problems to race is overwrought and, well, there are really good non-racial reasons why something happened. Race may still play a role in the perception of a situation, but failure to recognize the role of other, more significant factors serves to make racial claims ring hollow.
Not here. Not with what happened to Dauphin. His freedom to enjoy his life without being subject to police interference was impaired because he was a black guy reading a book on a wharf. They may be more polite in Canada, but they aren’t any less suspicious of black guys. Yes, there are Canadian idiots, and they look just like ours.