“BLACK MALE WITH A GUN!” – BLACK POLICE BEING ATTACKED BY WHITE POLICEadmin
One day, after a long and exhaustive day of SWAT training, I stopped by the grocery store in my community on the way home. I was still wearing my SWAT training uniform, which consisted of a shirt clearly affixed with the APD emblem and City seal. The shirt also had in bold wording, “Atlanta Police SWAT.” I was wearing black BDU trousers, and my metal badge was clearly displayed, clipped on to my belt. I was carrying my pistol in a fully exposed, standard police issue duty holster. I was in the store for no more than 15 minutes. As I was in the checkout line, I noticed a group of Cobb County police officers forming outside in the front of the market. I saw them looking at me, but didn’t give it any real thought. There didn’t appear to be any sort of emergency unfolding in the store. I paid for my groceries and exited the store with my two bags of food. As soon as I reached the outside of the door, I was ordered to the ground and surrounded by the officers.
At this point, my badge and SWAT tee shirt were in full view. They actually confiscated my ID card and contacted APD for verification of employment. Only after getting confirmation did they allow me to stand to my feet. After they were certain I was actually who I presented myself to be they made an attempt to justify their actions. They informed me their actions were based on the fact that they received a call of a robbery in progress, and I could have been impersonating an officer. They admitted to having witnessed me having a cordial and pleasant exchange with the cashier as I paid for my items. They even witnessed her returning my change for the $50 bill I had given her, which they saw me take from my own pocket. The sergeant went on to even admit that I seemed unusually calm and unconcerned about the forming police posse as I exited the store. All these things were significant, in light of the fact that the caller was a customer in the store and had described me perfectly. She even described me down to the details of my SWAT tee shirt and the APD badge clipped to my belt. It would seem that the dispatcher would have informed them of the greater possibility I was an actual sworn officer, but apparently, that didn’t happen.
I challenged them on whether or not they felt an actual robber would follow through with the robbery once the robber spotted the police forming outside. Also, would an actual robber have paid for the groceries with his own money that they witnessed coming from my own pocket? Lastly, would an actual robber be wearing a fully exposed departmental-issued police style holster? Which, by the way, the weapon was never removed from the holster the entire time of the so-called robbery. Not to mention all of the clearly marked SWAT gear and shiny badge I was wearing. The bottom line was, there was no justification for such an extreme response to a situation which spoke for itself. Indeed, the customer and the responding officers were operating solely on the tunnel vision of seeing a Black man with a gun. Never mind the fact that the State of Georgia was even then an “open carry” state. It was pure and simple. Even dressed in a clearly marked and authorized APD SWAT training uniform, in an open carry state, for all the times I had put my life on the line to serve and protect the citizens of Atlanta… In this very moment, I was still nothing more than a “Black Male With A Gun!!