Michigan Cop Stops Black Man for Walking With Hands in his Pockets in the Freezing Cold

Michigan Cop Stops Black Man for Walking With Hands in his Pockets in the Freezing Cold

We're entering the dead of winter, and temperatures are beginning to dip below freezing across the country. But if you're a black man, don't bother putting your hands in your pockets for warmth — someone may call the police on you for "looking suspicious." 

Pontiac, Michigan resident Brandon McKean discovered this on Thanksgiving Day after a police officer stopped and question him while he was out on a walk. The officer said he was responding to a call from a concerned resident regarding McKean's presence in his neighborhood.

McKean posted this video that captures his interaction with the police on his Facebook page and YouTube.

Source: YouTube

"You were walking by ... you were making people nervous," the officer says when McKean asks him why he was stopped. You'll notice that the officer whips out his own iPhone to record the incident after McKean starts recording on his own phone.

"By walking by?" asks McKean.

"Yes, they said you had your hands in your pockets," answers the officer.

"Wow, walking by having your hands in your pockets makes people nervous to call the police when it's snowing outside?" responds McKean, incredulous.

"Yeah," the officer says calmly, before continuing to question McKean. "What are you up to today?"

"Walking, with my hands in my pockets," responds a clearly pissed off McKean.

"Is it an inconvenience talking to me right now?" asks the officer.

"Hell yes," answers McKean, noting "the whole police situation going on across the country" in reference to protests over police brutality following the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri. "This is outrageous that you would let somebody tell you 'there's somebody on out the street with their hands in their pockets.' There's 10,000 people in Pontiac right now with their hands in their pockets!" 

The officer defends his actions: "You're right, but we do have a lot of robberies, so I'm just checking on you."

To his credit, the police officer notes that he was simply responding to a call made by someone else in the neighborhood, and both the officer and McKean conclude the tense encounter on a conciliatory, relatively positive note.

"I just want to make sure I get this on camera," McKean says. "Me too!" says the officer, pointing to his camera. 

"This is for my safety and yours," says McKean. "I'm being very respectable, you're being very respectable ... I'm just really mad at the situation of whoever called."

And here's the broader lesson of McKean's relatively pleasant run-in with the Pontiac police: If you see a black person walking through your neighborhood with his hands in his pockets, don't just assume they're up to no good and call the police for no good reason — especially if it's freezing outside. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Jared Keller

Jared Keller is the former director of news at Mic.

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