Community Demands Answers From Precinct One Constable Al Rosen and Deputy on “Mowing While Black” Incident
“The mission of the Harris County Constable’s Office Precinct One is to enhance the quality of life in our precinct by working in partnership with the community and to enforce laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear and provide a safe environment. Our Mandate is to do so with honor and integrity while at all times conducting ourselves with the highest ethical standards to maintain public confidence.”
HOUSTON- Many associate racial profiling with being Black, singled out and stopped in a vehicle for a traffic stop.
However, profiling does come in many other forms, and now for Precinct One Constable and its deputies, it may now be too dangerous to be “Mowing While Black”.
It seems Black men can drive while Black, Walk While Black or even
and be profiled, stopped and harassed.
Such appears to be the case for a Black student entrepreneur and his small group running a new up and coming lawn service.
It represents one of the latest incidents that demonstrates the continued frictions and clashes Between the “Black” and the “Blue”.
Mowing While Black – The Clash
This time 20-year old Marlin Gipson is the latest example of how some police just don’t get the full meaning of being compassionate in the field and who look to harass young Black men even if in full view doing good work or performing a lawn service in a community.
In his own words on youcaring.com, Gipson wrote:
“On July 18, 2017, my brothers and I were out cutting yards when we were racial profiled by a Precinct 1 Constable. He claimed that we “fit the description” and wanted to question us about what we were doing in the neighborhood. It seemed like it was kind of obvious what we were doing with lawnmowers, weed whackers and leaf blowers but I explained that we were landscaping anyway.”
Gipson was also going door to door putting business cards out in Willow Park area to advertise and offer his services to the community.
According to the video released on the incident, a Precinct One Constable deputy approached the Black man and begin to question him about what he was out in the open doing going door to door in the subdivision. There was no shaking of windows, peeping into homes or going into back yards reported at the time. Police only reason used to question the hard working youth was the alleged increase in property crimes in the area. It was that excuse that was used as an opportunity to stop Gipson and question him. Gipson even asked for the officer’s name and a card. When the deputy approached Gipson, he told the officer he was working. (performing his lawn services in the area).
The vision of Precinct One Constable’s Office promises to provide the highest level of professionalism, protection and service to our citizens in Harris County and visitors of our community.
Precinct One Constable Al Rosen held a news conference in attempt to bolster and justify the use of force in the case. He put on his toughest police persona to blast and describe Gipson’s faults and do damage control explaining the actions of his deputy and department.
However, the excuses and explanations for the treatment of Gipson are weak and fall way short of the community’s mark and fair and equal justice standards.
Did Precinct One fail in its mission and vision in Gipson’s encounter with the officer? That is the question.
The Black community deserves the truth, respect and better treatment.
The Gipson case and the public relations snafu Precinct 1 finds itself fits a trending national pattern that the “Blue” still doesn’t get it. They fail miserable on knowing and understand African-Americans and the Black community.
The question is does Constable Rosen and his Precinct 1 officers on the street really have enough training to understand Black history and are equipped with adequate community culture and sensitivity needed to police the Black community.
Pulling out handcuffs moments after a non-confrontational response from a citizen to an officer is a power move that seems a little over the top, out of line, groundless and sets the stage for greater escalation to conflict, not communication.
“We do need to change policies and laws, but more importantly we must change a culture of denying to African-Americans the rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution,” said Gary Bledsoe, President of the Texas National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
In the United States, police officers still continue to have little to no respect for Black men and have police officers have their own mental problems and need some serious counseling, retraining and treatment when dealing with African-Americans and working the beat in our neighborhoods.
The Precinct 1 deputy involved apparently did not like how the lack of communications were going, so the video shows how the deputy then reached for his handcuffs and told Gipson to turn around and place his hands on his head, the 21-year-old began to walk away
Editor’s note: During the recent NAACP forum in Acres Homes recently, the public was encouraged by law enforcement officials to report issues and ask for information and report complaints with police officers. Gipson obviously attempted to do just that and the deputy was not very cooperative with a citizen asking for information from a public servant.
Gipson did note that if he does not act and do something about what was happening to him, he was afraid someone else could get hurt.
“I was scared of what might happen next so I backed up slowly and started heading home,” he said.
Gibson is a high school graduate and college student majoring in business accounting and operates his lawn care business on the side to support himself and help his family.
“The truth is there were not complaints or robberies in that area recently,” Dallas-Fort Worth Civil Rights Attorney S. Lee Merritt, Esq. said in his video response to actions against Gipson. “This is exactly what we ask kids to do… go out and earn an honest living. It was deflating even then to see a Black man being targeted by law enforcement.”
According to Merritt, Gipson posed no danger to the community, but the police later came to his home and even allegedly with his hands up and complying with officer command, he was tasered, had a K-9 dog sicced on him and was bitten numerous time by the same K-9 dog and then stomped by officers.
He was charged with evading arrest and failure to identify himself.
“If is turns out there were not reports (on record), then it is an unlawful stop,” Merritt said.
Racial Profiling Real
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, racial profiling is a longstanding and deeply troubling national problem despite claims that the United States has entered a “post-racial era.”
It occurs every day, in cities and towns across the country, when law enforcement and private security target people of color for humiliating and often frightening detentions, interrogations, and searches without evidence of criminal activity and based on perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion.
Racial profiling is patently illegal, violating the U.S. Constitution’s core promises of equal protection under the law to all and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Just as importantly, racial profiling is ineffective. It alienates communities from law enforcement, hinders community policing efforts, and causes law enforcement to lose credibility and trust among the people they are sworn to protect and serve.
Racial profiling affects a wide array of communities of color. More than 240 years of slavery and 90 years of legalized racial segregation have led to systemic profiling of blacks in traffic and pedestrian stops. Since September 11, 2001, members of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities have been profiled by airline personnel, federal law enforcement, and local police.
A Candid Look into the Mind of Young Black Man Stopped by Police
What goes through the mind a young Black male when approached by police for no apparent reason when you are minding your own business.
It starts with being reminded of the fates of Sandra Bland case or 15-year old Jordan Edwards, Philando Castille or a Corey Jones, cousin of NFL superstar Anquan Bolden who was shot and killed by a police officer in Florida in 2016 while Jones was waiting for roadside assistance on the side of a highway.
Countless others too also have been brutally mistreated or shot down without provocation by the “Boys on Blue” who continue to show little shame or remorse for how they treat African-American males and females and what they do to us.
It all starts with incidents like the frustrating and painful encounter with Gipson.
A young black man from a major Midwestern city shared part of his mindset after being stopped in his own neighborhood near his home with his family and friends. It gives chilling insight into what goes on in the mind and hearts of those facing that big “Blue” encounter.
Here are some of his thoughts about the incident at the time of the stop.
“…My minivan was too black… Maybe I was too Black.”
“Maybe there were too many Black men in one car for us not to be up to no good,” he said.
“Whatever the “reason,” the squad cars made an abrupt U-turn and, with those lights flashing, pulled my car over. When this happened we were just about in front of my cousin’s house, in a neighborhood I knew well, in a city I was born in. And I was being treated like a criminal for no reason.
Four cops got out of the squad cars and came toward my minivan with flashlights on and guns drawn.
“In that moment, suddenly the world didn’t make sense. I was driving home from a concert, and now there were police with their guns out coming toward me. It was surreal, and it was scary.”
He went on to describe.. how One officer opened the driver’s side door, told me to put my hands on the steering wheel, and demanded my driver’s license, which I provided. The other officers told the passengers to open the other doors of the minivan and get out. They told my cousin to sit on the curb while they ran my plates for information and our IDs for warrants.
“None of it felt right. None of it was right. We were young people coming home from a concert. And we were terrified. I were stopped when driving home from a concert. Our crime? Driving while Black.”
It is quite the familiar theme that spike of worry and anxiety that most young Black men feel when they encounter the police.
“I’m speaking out for the reforms that can protect not only Black and brown people but all Americans from police harassment. We need these reforms to protect our rights, and our very lives.”
Perhaps, some the same thoughts went through the mind of Gipson as he was at one point exercising his entrepreneurial muscle and feeling positive about life and his new business, only to have the deputy constable step in and temporarily dash his business growth and expansion plans.
Young Blacks Can Be Entrepreneurial Too
These Black young men were doing something positive in full view of the community and society, but even that good is being evil spoken of. These are not young rogues pillaging neighborhoods, home invading or beating up and robbing the innocents in public places.
This is a simple lawn care service and like hundreds of others run by entrepreneurs across the Houston Metro – Gipson and his brothers are young and Black. Mowing While Black should not be criminalized and no Black entrepreneur should not feel guilty for trying to do something positive like create a business or be confronted for performing legal work and services in a community.
Here’s The Real Deal
The ACLU makes it clear when it shares this thought.
“We rely on the police to protect us from harm and promote fairness and justice in our communities. But racial profiling has led countless people to live in fear, casting entire communities as suspect simply because of what they look like, where they come from, or what religion they adhere to.”
For Gipson, he face a battle of get healthy and just hopes he can get well and get back out there and pursue his positive dream of business ownership and be a positive example for young Black men while erasing stereotypes that linger in the minds of police and some others that Black men are not trustworthy.
“My brothers and I believe we can turn this negative into a positive despite it all,” he said in a statement. “We want to grow and expand our business and teach others about opportunities in entrepreneurship over selling drugs. We want to speak out against injustice and police brutality. We want to be sure the officers involved here are held accountable.”
“Mowing While Black” demonstrates that no matter what Black people say and do, it appears it is looked upon with more suspicion by police and public media criticisms than praise.
That my friends is shameful in a 2017 America…
By: Darwin Campbell