Yesterday, Marc Lamont Hill,the only voice of reason over at Fox News, a Columbia University professor, and a pundit that speaks eloquently on a variety of topics, including hip-hop, filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Philadelphia police.
Based on his tweets, where he alleges cops harassed him for driving a nice car after dropping someone off, it seems there will be no beer summit to resolve this one. Take a look:
Cop: “Nice car. How do u afford this?” Me: “I work.”
They pull me out the car and go through all my stuff.
Without asking, cop opens the door and starts going through my glove box & arm rest compartment.
Cop finds my checkbook: “This says Dr. on it. Who’s is it?” Me: “Mine.” Him: “What do u do?” How is this relevant?
Now he says to me: “I’m gonna let u go. No tickets. Just want u to be safe.” GTFOH. He didn’t give me a ticket bc I didn’t do s%&t.
This is NOT a case of driving while black. It’s a case of patrolling while racist. They’re the issue, not me.
Hill is seeking a trial by jury, saying that the officer searched his car without warrant or permission. In other media reports, Hill also alleges in the suit that the officer slammed him against his vehicle, pushed his fist into his back, and threatened to take him to jail.
Hill claims the officers violated his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
“The Constitutional violations suffered by the Plaintiff were the result of the City’s policies, procedures, customs and practices of allowing its officers to make stops without reasonable suspicion, and to use reasonable and excessive force thereby violating the Civil Rights of those with whom they come into contact,” Hill’s lawyer Leonard K. Hill said.
In 2008, three former white Philadelphia police officers won a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the city for breaking the blue code of silence in 1997 to fight racism. They reported racism against three black officers. One officer alleged that a ranking officer said, “I’m going to get that n— Sanford.” The officer said when he let a black female officer in his police car to get out of the rain, a ranking officer told him, “You’ll feel what’s it like to work with a n—-. Take the vehicle back and you’re going to stand out there with her,” among many other incidents.
While Hill’s case seems difficult to prove, particularly if there were no witnesses to corroborate his story, it does send a message about racial profiling. What is most interesting about this case is how many people in the Twitter universe, bloggers, and in the media were quick to accuse Hill of lying rather than accuse the cop of misconduct. That sentiment is part of the root of the problem. A lawsuit that probably won’t make the courtroom won’t solve that entrenched racism, but it will put the spotlight back on Philadelphia police.