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Oklahoma State Conference NAACP Calls for Investigations of Oklahoma Highway Patrol Officers Action
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
Oklahoma City – Today Oklahoma State Conference National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) calls for a meeting with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Commissioner concerning the treatment of Dr. Reverend Eric Gill, Youth Minister at Metropolitan Baptist Church, and former Basketball Coach at Heritage Hall School. Dr. Gill is approximately 5’6”, 170lbs and physically not seen as an immediate threat to anyone.
When did putting your hands up – a universal sign of surrender – become a message of “having drugs?” This is a prime example of Betty Shelby’s irrational behavior when she killed Terence Crutcher. According to the Tulsa Police officers, they stated that he looked like a “Big Black BAD DUDE.” With his hands in the air, according to Betty Shelby, Mr. Crutcher was reaching for a gun, and no one thought to question whether his hands being next to the car window was simply a reflection. “It is evident why so many law enforcement officers are acquitted when encountering African-Americans who they say are a big bad black dude no matter their height or weight.” Said Anthony R. Douglas, President Oklahoma State NAACP.
“The major issue is whether or not Dr. Gill was a victim of racial profiling and was this an act of suspecting or targeting a person of a certain race based on a stereotype about their race, and whether or not the civil rights of Mr. Gill were violated. There is a great concern that had this individual been white, he would not have been treated the same way,” said Anthony R. Douglas.
Dr. Gill posted a statement of his experience and emotions on Facebook, and it quotes the following: “On Friday, January 5, 2018, at approximately 6pm while driving SW on the Turner Turnpike by exit 179, red and blue lights flickered in my rearview mirror. As an African American with the anxiety of being pulled over crept over me, I nervously grabbed the stirring wheel tighter at “10 and 2,” and I began to survey: Why am I being pulled over? Was I speeding? No, is your seatbelt on? Yea, but it’s dark outside surely that can’t be the reason, so I pull over to the right shoulder? No, find a well-lit area with high traffic, where is your ID? Is it visible? Make it visible?
“Thank God, for the McDonald’s”
As I pulled over into the parking lot of the McDonalds, my mind still racing, thoughts of Terence Crutcher Tulsa, Oklahoma, Philando Castile, Saint Paul, Minnesota, Sandra Bland, Waller County, Texas, and the images of other Black and Brown bodies in the presence of Police officers arrested or killed popped in my head.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Officer, over the PA system from his patrol car, commanded “DRIVER STEP OUT THE CAR!” “WTF, I’ve never been asked to step out the car before, what’s the protocol? What do I do?” (Move slowly, let the officer know you are not a threat, make him/her feel as comfortable as possible…YEA get out slowly with your Hands up. Why am I getting pulled over again? Never mind, focus get out the car slow with your hands up, I said to myself)
“What is most alarming being the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Officer’s statement; “when a black man puts his hands up they have something to hide, do you have your hands up because you have drugs!” “Do I need to search the car!?”
“Now, put your hands down grab your ID out the car and come here,” said the officer. Dr. Gill started to think; “Oh, shit, I’m about to get shot? Is this really happening? Why am I getting pulled over? Focus E, move slow grab your ID…slowly…do what he says and JUST GET HOME TO YOUR FAMILY!”
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Officer informed him that he was impeding traffic in the left lane (with two other cars in front of him and two miles from the Turner Turnpike Tollbooth).
Dr. Gill stated that he was reflective and relieved that for the first time he was not seen as an African American who was a physical and immediate threat. As he walked back to his car, he was grateful because Dr. Gill knew that it could’ve been different, and he could’ve been another Terence Crutcher.
Oklahoma State NAACP demands that this incident is investigated thoroughly and that the camera footage of this traffic stop is released for our review. Racial profiling, targeting, and discrimination is a serious matter that cannot and won’t be tolerated.