Moving While Black: 'They think I'm stealing, I've been hearing this for 40 years,' Says Karle Robinson

Karle Robinson, 61, a retired Army vet was finally living his dream moving to the countryside. He bought a home in Tonganoxie, Kan., and had almost finished a grueling 12-hour move back in August, in the early hours of the morning, when police showed up, shined flashlights, and asked him to prove he lived there and cuffed him.

Welcome to the neighborhood.

“You’re guilty until proven innocent,” Robinson said.

“They’re thinking I’m stealing,” he said. “I’ve been hearing this for 40 years getting pulled over, being searched. I’m not going to let this go.”

In the video, the officer asks Robinson when he bought the house. After Robinson says last month, the officer says, “Put your hands up on the side of the house I’m going to check you for weapons.”

“If I’d been a white man, you know that wouldn’t happen,” Robinson said, as he watched body cam footage from that night. “I’m being handcuffed right here on my own damn property.”

After Robinson filed a complaint,
Tonganoxie Police Chief Greg Lawson gave the excuse that they recently had car break-ins and were on high alert. It couldn’t have had anything to do with the town being 95 percent white, and 1 percent Black, right

“That’s a lie,” Robinson said.

He said he spoke with his new neighbors and no one knew of any problems with break-ins.

Ngozi Ndulue, senior director of criminal justice programs for the NAACP headquarters said, “The message that people get when they see that is there’s almost no likelihood their complaint will be sustained that this is not a process that works, that law enforcement is not concerned with protecting them from racial profiling, and it’s a waste of their time and effort to go through this process.”

Lawson said the color of Robinson’s skin had nothing to do with the situation, but refused to provide proof of the rash of car break-ins to local media. Tonganoxie
City Manager Greg Brajkovic, Mayor Jason Ward and members of the city council did not respond to requests for comment either.

Police departments in Kansas have done their best to
not report racial profiling incidents, nor analyze any reports, or investigate claims.

“In terms of actually creating transparency and accountability, you would be hard-pressed to create a more useless system,” said Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas.

“If a complaint is found in favor of the person who complains, our police departments would have to say racial profiling exists,” said Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, a Wichita Democrat.

“Without that data collection, you can’t prove that you don’t stop people of color more.”

The officer’s actions were consistent with stop and frisk procedures, said Lauren Bonds,
the legal director for ACLU of Kansas.

“When someone is taking items into a house, that usually is not probable cause of a burglary in progress even in the wee hours of the morning,” Bonds said.

When multiple officers went into the house, and saw proof that Robinson was in fact moving into his new home, they then agreed to help the exhausted man carry his TV (the last item for the day) into his house.

The officers had to make up for profiling him and cuffing an exhausted man at 2:30 a.m. who just wanted to finally call his place home.

Related Story: Renting While Black: White Woman Blocks Black Man Trying to Get Home

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