- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A University of North Texas professor’s explosive claim that she was harassed by police for “walking while black” has reportedly been contradicted by police dashcam footage.

Dorothy Bland, dean of the journalism school at the Denton campus, penned a column for the Dallas Morning News last month accusing two local police officers of racially profiling her during a walk in her Corinth neighborhood on Oct. 24, Fox News reported.

“Like most African-Americans, I am familiar with the phrase ‘driving while black,’ but was I really being stopped for walking on the street in my own neighborhood?” she wrote. “Yes. In the words of Sal Ruibal, ‘Walking while black is a crime in many jurisdictions. May God have mercy on our nation.’

“I guess I was simply a brown face in an affluent neighborhood. I told the police I didn’t like to walk in the rain, and one of them told me, ‘My dog doesn’t like to walk in the rain.’ Ouch!” Ms. Bland wrote.

Dashcam footage provided by Corinth Police shows Ms. Bland walking in the middle of the street while waving her arms up and down repeatedly. The two police officers stop and politely advise her to stay on the side of oncoming traffic, so she can see approaching cars.

“When I saw the video, those officers were nothing but professional,” Corinth Police Chief Debra Walthall told Fox News. “[The incident] just didn’t lend itself to racial profiling.

“If we didn’t have the video, these officers would have serious allegations against them,” Chief Walthall added. “It would be their word against hers. Every white officer that stops an African-American does not constitute racial profiling.”

The video shows one officer explain to an annoyed Ms. Bland that a truck had tried to pass her earlier but had to stop because she didn’t notice it was there. The officers allow her to take a picture of them “for safety’s sake” and ask her for identification.

“As for the I.D. question, how many Americans typically carry I.D. with them on their morning walk?” Ms. Bland wrote in her column. “Do you realize I bought the hoodie I was wearing after completing the Harvard University Institute for Management and Leadership in Education in 2014? Do you realize I have hosted gatherings for family, friends, faculty, staff and students in my home? Not once was a police officer called. To those officers, my education or property-owner status didn’t matter. One officer captured my address and date of birth.”

Chief Walthall said the officers were correct to ask for identification because Ms. Bland had committed a Class C misdemeanor by impeding traffic, Fox News reported.

“It is part of the standard procedure,” Chief Walthall said. “There’s a legitimate purpose for doing so. She [Bland] did commit a misdemeanor. I want our officers checking IDs on every person they encounter in situations such as this.”

The Dallas Morning News updated Ms. Bland’s column on Monday to include a statement by Chief Walthall, urging Corinth residents to review the video themselves, and “I’m sure you will agree the officers’ intent was simply to keep her safe.”

Ms. Bland never contacted the police department to voice her concerns regarding this encounter and has not returned my phone message left at the number provided by the mayor,” Chief Walthall said. “The citizens of Corinth as a whole are a highly educated population, and it is disappointing that one of our residents would attempt to make this a racial issue when clearly it is not.”

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