The dean of the University of North Texas' Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism says she was being racially profiled when she was stopped by Corinth police officers Saturday as she walked through her neighborhood.
Dorothy Bland has referred to her stop by police as a case of "walking while black." In dashcam video released to NBC 5 Thursday, Bland can be seen exercising as she walks down a residential street with her back to oncoming traffic.
Two Corinth police officers, a sergeant and an officer trainee, said they stopped Bland after observing her walking in the middle of the street, blocking a truck's path; Bland seemingly unaware with her headphones in.
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In the video the officers can be heard informing Bland that she needs to walk on the other side of the road so that she can see oncoming traffic. They then ask her for identification, which she said she didn't have with her because she was exercising. The officers took her name and date of birth instead; radioing the information back to dispatch.
Bland was then released -- and on dashcam she can be seen walking to the other side of the street.
Corinth Chief of Police Debra Walthall said her officers thought it was a fairly positive interaction, with no citations given, until they were made aware Bland filed a complaint with city leaders.
On Thursday morning, an editorial from Bland was published in the Dallas Morning News in which she recounted the event as racial profiling.
"Yes. In the words of Sal Ruibal, 'Walking while black is a crime in many jurisdictions. May God have mercy on our nation,'" Bland wrote.
The journalism professor went on to write, "I guess I was simply a brown face in an affluent neighborhood."
In the video, Bland can be heard saying she can't believe she's being pulled over, with flashing lights, for walking, and near the end she reminds officers, "I pay lots of taxes too, by the way."
You can read the whole article here which includes a response from Walthall:
Walthall said Thursday that she was standing by her officers completely in this case.
"They followed our policy and procedures which, by the way, are reviewed outside of this department by the Texas Police Chiefs' Best Practices program," said Walthall.
She added that people would likely have differing opinions on the video, but as far as her department goes, any stop, regardless of race, would be handled this way.
"No, not at all, not anything, near anything, that caused me to believe that there was racial profiling," Walthall said of the stop and request for identification.
When reached for comment by phone Thursday, Bland said she had nothing further to add and that she was ready to move on from the "personal event" and focus on her job.
Willie Hudspeth, Denton County's NAACP leader, said that he had watched the video and was not jumping to any conclusions until he could talk personally to the police chief and to Bland.
Hudspeth said the real question is if this would be procedure on a stop of anyone, or if normally this would be a situation where police would simply inform the walker to move over, and then move on.