Mother says her son was racially profiled while delivering newspapers after police were called on him
Police were reportedly called on an 11-year-old African-American boy as he was delivering newspapers in a Columbus, Ohio suburb, the boy’s mother told USA Today.
Brandy Sharp, the boy’s mother, told USA Today that she was driving alongside her son, Uriah, and his older brother as they set out on their first day delivering newspapers in Upper Arlington, Ohio.
Sharp said she realized Uriah had delivered newspapers to a few incorrect addresses and asked him go back to pick up the wrongly delivered papers, USA Today reported.
That’s when a police officer showed up on the scene.
The officer was reportedly responding to a call about suspicious activity. Sharp said, once she explained the situation, the matter was dropped.
But the experience prompted Sharp to recount the story on the Facebook, where she goes by the name “Bmai Love.”
“First day of paper route and we are pulled over by police…Sad I cant even teach my son the value of working without someone whispering and looking at us out the side of their eye perhaps because we DON’T ‘look like a person that belongs in their neighborhood,'” she wrote.
Sharp told USA Today that she was not upset with the police. Her grandfather was Louis Sharp, the first African-American Ohio Highway Patrolman.
Instead, she said she was angry at the person who made the suspicious activity call.
“You called the police on my 11-year-old son,” she said of the caller to USA Today. “I’m insulted.”
Sharp says her son is 12 in the post on her Facebook page.
The Upper Arlington Police Department later addressed the situation in a Facebook post, saying the call was likely prompted by a new city ordinance “placing more stringent requirements on the delivery of printed materials … to help reduce littering.”
A number of incidents in which police have been called on people of color — often by white people — have gained widespread attention in recent months.
Earlier this year, two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks after they sat down in the cafe without making a purchase. The incident sparked national outrage and protests, as well as prompted a policy change and by the company. Starbucks later held nationwide sensitivity training to prevent future incidents.
In May, a white woman called police on a black family in Oakland for having a charcoal grill where, she said, it was “illegal.” The event drew backlash and city residents later had a massive cookout at the barbecue’s location two weeks later in response to the viral incident.