Racial Profiling on the Westside

I am a longtime resident of Santa Barbara and black, and I would like to tell the story of something that recently happened to me.

Last Saturday, at 12:45 a.m., I was walking home on the Micheltorena overpass after watching a late movie downtown, a regular routine for me over the last year and a half. A police car suddenly pulled to the curb 20 feet in front of me; the officer got out of the car and walked directly toward me. From the moment the officer stepped out, she had her hands over her gun; not for a split second during the whole questioning did she take her hands off. She said “Hi,” and she immediately asked what I was doing and where I was coming from.

The officer had parked her car way ahead of me; there would have been absolutely no video or audio surveillance camera to record what was going on. When I asked why I was being stopped, the officer quickly replied that I was not being stopped at all — but she stood in my path, preventing me from moving, still with her hands on her gun. A second later, she said she was working the night shift on the Westside and thought it was a good idea to introduce herself to people and get to know them. But she hadn’t stopped anybody ahead of me, and when she left, she drove down the street and made a left on San Andres.

At that hour of the night and under these circumstances, her action was nothing but racial profiling. Considering the current focus throughout the country on this unacceptable practice, I would like the community to know that it happens in Santa Barbara as well, and people like myself still feel unsafe.

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