- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 5, 2015

The dean of journalism at the University of North Texas whose complaints of racial discrimination by police were contradicted by dashcam footage, says her story of “walking while black” simply reflects her “perception” of events.

Dorothy Bland wrote a column for The Dallas Morning News, saying she believed she was racially profiled by Corinth police while on a walk in her neighborhood.

“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?” Ms. Bland wrote. “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!”

Corinth’s police chief released dashcam footage of the peaceful encounter, along with a 329-word response saying it was a routine stop as Ms. Bland was impeding traffic by walking in the middle of the street, the Denton Record-Chronicle reported.

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,” said Corinth Police Chief Debra Walthall. “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.”

Chief Walthall said she was able to speak with Ms. Bland after the statement was published.

“She said that she was ready to let this go,” she said of Ms. Bland, the Record-Chronicle reported. “She had said her piece in the paper, and we had a small discussion about how things could have been different if she contacted the police department first.”

One issue Ms. Bland brought up was how the officer said, “My dog doesn’t like to walk in the rain,” Chief Walthall said. This was meant to be cordial and conversational and was not said with racial intent, Chief Walthall told the Record-Chronicle.

“I wrote the column to share my perception of my experience. This happened to me,” Ms. Bland told the paper. “It was my opinion. I respect law enforcement and respect they have a difficult job.”

An online petition demanding that the University of North Texas fire Ms. Bland has surpassed 3,800 signatures.

In an email to staff and faculty at the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism, Ms. Bland explained, “My column simply reflects my perspective and experience,” the Record-Chronicle reported.

A statement posted on the university’s Facebook page explained, in part, that Ms. Bland’s “interactions with the Corinth Police and her communications about her perceived experience are her private business.”

UNT encourages individuals to read the columns that ran in the Dallas Morning News, and then watch the video to draw their own conclusions,” the statement reads. “That said, among UNT’s greatest assets is the collective diversity of thought at this university, our willingness to respect and examine differing perceptions and viewpoints, and our ability to engage in constructive dialogue in a civil manner. The university encourages others to have respectful discussion of the matter and attempt to see the situation from all points of view.”

Meanwhile, Corinth police have since been flooded with an overwhelmingly positive response, Chief Walthall told the Record-Chronicle.

“Some people see it as racial profiling, but it’s been overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “They thanked the officers and myself for handling it professionally.”


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