A police officer in Lynchburg, Va., is being accused of racial profiling after he handcuffed four Black male college students and pulled out his gun during a routine traffic stop.
The officer, whose name has not been released while the police department does their own “investigation,” said he noticed the car had a broken tail light. However, the officer made a U-turn when he first saw the car passing with the four Black student athletes inside.
The video of the incident was posted on Facebook, but has been removed. However, screenshots still circulating show the four Black men sitting on the sidewalk in handcuffs. The officer has his gun pulled. His excuse is that he smelled marijuana. The officer searched the car twice and found no drugs.
“The reason I reached for my gun is because I smelled marijuana,” the officer said. “The supreme court says guns and drugs go together.” (It doesn’t.)
The four men were coming back from a morning football practice. All they ended up receiving was a ticket for the broken tail light.
“Those are my kids on the side walk,” Virginia University of Lynchburg football coach, Bobby Rome, told ABC 13 News. “They’re not criminals, gangsters, they’re not drug dealers. They’re not murderers. They’re here to get an education.”
The university released a statement saying they would be meeting with students to help prevent something like this from happening again. Though what the young men could have done differently is unclear.
The University of Lynchburg is a historically Black college in a state with a long and bloody history of racial violence, discrimination and lynching. About 97 percent of its student body is Black. In contrast, the city of Lynchburg is 62 percent white and only 28 percent Black.
The police department also reflects a lack of diversity, though in 2016 the chief of police said they were making recruitment of minorities a bigger priority.
Police officers met with students at VUL’s convocation on Tuesday morning.
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