Duane C. Fernandez Sr.Florida Courier and Daytona Times photojournalist Daytona Beach
I was 23 years old living in Hartford, Connecticut’s Charter Oak Terrace housing project. Colt Firearms, the gun manufacturer, hired me in 1983 as a machine operator. I worked 16 hours a day for five to six days a week for a year.
One night after my shift was over, I took a shortcut through an industrial park to get home to my mother’s apartment. As I walked, I heard police sirens getting closer. I could see about 10 police cars speeding past me heading towards a building with the alarm blasting.
As the last police cruiser passed me, the officer looked at me and slammed on his brakes; the others did the same. They got out of their cars, surrounded me with guns drawn and commanded me to get on my knees with my hands in the air.
Three of the officers rushed me and pushed me face-first on the ground with one officer putting his boot on my neck while pointing a shotgun at my face as I laid on the ground.
I then was handcuffed and thrown into the back of a police cruiser. Every time I said something, they became belligerent and disrespectful. I was detained for about an hour until a car arrived on the scene. The driver was an older White man. he police officers walked him to the building where the alarm was going off. The man unlocked the door, did a walkthrough, then got in his car and left. The officer who had pointed the shotgun at me unhandcuffed me. He said, “You can go now.”
I looked at the officers and said, “What if something was taken from the building?”One officer said, “Lucky for you nothing taken because if there was, I would have taken your Black ass to jail. You have a nice night.”
Gregory Days B-CU student and Florida Courier intern Gainesville
Going to Bethune-Cookman University was a freshman was so exciting. New place, new people, and work.
I was pulling out of a South Daytona apartment my friend stayed at the time. I pulled into the left lane instead of the right because I was getting ready to turn around. Out of the blue, I see red and blue lights behind me. I proceeded to put my business face on and my manners on overflow.
I turned into the closest parking area; it was a Subway. The officer wasted no time jumping out of his car with his gun pointed at my window. He yelled for me to turn off my car and get out. I complied. He handcuffed me on my side and started calling me another person’s name.
He never got any of my information. I tried to tell him he had the wrong person. I probably would have gone to jail that night if it was not for another officer who pulled up and explained that they captured the suspect a half-hour ago. They let me go and the arresting officer never gave me an apology.
Charles W. Cherry II Former Florida Courier publisher Daytona Beach
I’ve been stopped by cops maybe 25 times in my life. Most have been traffic stops. Many of the stops were professional, but were always stressful.
I was a Broward County prosecutor in the 1980s and I got stopped multiple times by city cops and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. I knew the law, and there was never any reason for them to stop me. I carried a badge then, so they always let me go.
I’d go back and tell my fellow prosecutors, most of whom were White. They thought it was funny. Around the office, they started calling me “walking PC” (Probable Cause, the legal standard for an arrest). Yeah, I was “walking PC” because I was a Black male. Other Black prosecutors in the office had the same experiences being stopped.
In the 1990s, I got stopped twice in South Florida for driving my mom’s tricked-out Mercedes-Benz that my brother, who has in the Air Force, had bought and shipped to her from Germany. The cops thought I was a drug dealer.
I was also stopped by the Drug Enforcement Agency in the Nashville, Tennessee airport because I was flying back to Miami in sweatpants and without luggage. I asked the DEA agents, “What profile did I fit?” and told them I was a prosecutor. They both turned red and walked away without a word.
My latest stop was in Orlando about two years ago. My son and daughter were with me, and I told them to turn on their cell phones to record the audio, sit still, and let me do all the talking.
They saw how I handled it. It was better than just giving them “the talk.” But I had to tell them truthfully that even de-escalating the situation and trying not to be perceived as a threat to a cop doesn’t always work. You could still get falsely arrested, beaten, or shot.
Tony Anderson Verizon worker Bradenton
In 2016, a group of friends and I used to share the same car. There were four of us in total, so every other day we’d alternate who drove the car. On this particular night, I was pulled over approximately at 11 p.m. To my surprise, the officers already knew my name and knew the names of all my friends who were in the car.
One officer approached the driver’s side as another approached the passenger. They asked to see my license and registration.
As I was pulling out my license, the officer on the other side had pulled out the pistol on his hip. I immediately stopped moving and asked the reason for the stop and the other officer told me to ignore him. Paranoia struck as I got out the car and a few other cars approached the scene.
They ran my license and let me slide but the officer on the passenger side, who pulled out the pistol, had nothing to say to me.