Black Princeton Professor Handcuffed to a Table for Unpaid Parking Ticket

UPDATED: Feb. 11, 2016 at 1:35 p.m. EST


The dashboard cam footage was made publicon Thursdayconfirming that Perry was speeding and shows the male officer explaining to her standard procedures. Though the pat down cannot be seen in the video, audio of the male officer and Perry can be heard.

Video 1: The radar and initial stop.

Video 2: Princeton officer confirms Perry’s information.

Video 3: The officer explains to Perry the warrant for her arrest. There’s audio of the pat down.

Original Story

By Sheryl Estrada

Princeton University Professor Imani Perry. Photo via YouTube.

Imani Perry, an AfricanAmerican history professor at Princeton University, said shewas arrested by Princeton police officers and handcuffed to a table over an unpaid parking ticket on Saturday.

Perry posted a series of tweets on Sunday, saying on her way to work she was arrested in Princeton Township”for a single parking ticket three years ago.” She said police refused to let her make a call before being arrested and a male police officer performed a body search, even though a female officer was present. She was handcuffed to a table at the station.

The following day, in a Facebook post, Perry expanded on her comments about the incident.

” if it is the protocol to have male officers to (sic) pat down the bodies of women, and if it is the norm to handcuff someone to a table for failing to pay a parking ticket, we have a serious problem with policing in the society

“I could afford to pay the fine, and I paid it without hesitation. No, my quarrel is with how I was treated. I cannot ever say definitively that this specific mistreatment was a result of race.

“But I can say that what I experienced was far more likely because my skin is a deep brown, my nose is round, and my hair is coily. And given the accumulation of police violence against Black people in this society, my fear at being stopped and arrested as a Black woman was warranted and even reasonable.”

At a Princeton Council meeting Monday night, Police Chief Nick Sutter revealed details about the incident, which is public information under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act. Sutter confirmed a male and female officer stopped Perry around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday for allegedly driving 67 mph in a 45 mph zone.

The officers then arrested her for active warrants from the Princeton municipal court for two unpaid parking violations from 2013. Her Pennsylvania license was also expired. Sutter said that after reviewing the dashboard cam footage of the incident, he determined state law and protocols were followed.

He said Perry was handcuffed to a workstation and booked at the police station. After about an hour she was released after paying outstanding fines totaling $130.Sutter said he did not know the amount of time Perry was handcuffed. The normal process time is approximately 15 minutes.

“Every single person brought back there is secured while the officer is processing,” Sutter said in an interview. However, if a suspect is injured in a way that doesn’t allow for handcuffing, exceptions aresometimes made, he said.

In a statement to The Daily Princetonian on Sunday, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., chair of the Department of African American Studies, questioned Perry’s treatment.

“Asking her if she had any weapons on her person, patting her down, handcuffing her, and then handcuffing her to a table all for a parking ticket” he said. “This is the kind of unnecessary escalation that is bound up with the unseemly work of generating revenue through parking tickets.”

According to page 10 of the 2013 Princeton Police Department Annual Report, the department’s service population is 70 percent white, 5 percent Black, 5 percent Latino and 20 percent “other.”

Sworn-in police officers are 79 percent white, 13 percent Latino and 8 percent Black.

The report states, “While the diversity of the department exceeds that of our service area (community), we are committed to increasing the diversity in the department as we recruit and hire the most qualified people available.”

In November, Princeton University students organized a sit-in at the office of President Chris Eisgruber, protesting the legacy ofU.S. President Woodrow Wilson on campus, as well as racism and micro aggressions. A former Princeton president, Wilson was a known advocate of segregation.

Perry, a professor at Princeton since 2009, wrote in her Facebook post that, along with the backlash she received in response to her tweets, people responded to her to say they’ve had similar experiences with local law enforcement.

“The day that I shared my story, others came pouring into my inbox and text messages,” she wrote. “Undergraduates, grad students, and residents of the town, shared stories of experiencing treatment they found unjust from the local police.

“However, I do not want to isolate Princeton Police, although I would love for them to respond to this moment with care not simply towards me but for the entire community they are charged with serving. But in truth, this is not just a local problem. It is a systemic one, one that is also national and international.”

Related Story: Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland is Fired, Charged With Perjury

Sutter said the Princeton police department “can be perceived to be a microcosm” of the larger law enforcement community.

“I don’t want to sound in any way like I am being defensive or arguing that Dr. Perry is not entitled to feel the way she does,” Sutter said. “We are part of the larger law enforcement community in our current times in law enforcement. Therefore I understand how in this climate we can be perceived to be a microcosm of that.”

The treatment of Blacks during traffic stops has been in the national spotlight. For example, State Trooper Brian Encinia, who arrested Sandra Bland on July 10 in Prairie View, Texas, used excessive force. He was indicted by the Waller County grand jury in January for perjury. The grand jury has charged him for allegedly lying in an affidavit about Bland’s traffic stop, which ultimately resulted in the 28-year-old Black woman’s death in a Waller County jail cell three days later.

University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing shot Samuel DuBose in the head on July 19 during a traffic stop. DuBose died at the scene. Last month, the university announced it would pay a $4.85 million settlement to his family, as well as provide free undergraduate tuition for his children.

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