Even Being a Black Professional Won't Stop You From Bad Encounters With Police

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Users across social media rejoiced Thursday as news spread that a black man who was shot by a police officer in North Miami lived to tell the tale.

Charles Kinsey, who works as a behavioral therapist in an assisted living facility in North Miami, was shot in the leg after an officer opened fire, intending to hit Kinsey's adult autistic patient, whom police thought was armed. Kinsey, who is black, identified himself as a behavioral therapist and pled with officers not to shoot, to no avail.

"I'm telling him, 'Sir, there is no need for firearms. I'm unarmed, he's an autistic guy. He's got a toy truck in his hand,'" he said in an interview with WSVN-TV.

In response to police shooting deaths of black men in the last few years, opponents of the Black Lives Matter movement say that the victims' prior criminal records or disrespect for police caused their demise. But black men say they can do all the right things and still fall victim to racial profiling and excessive uses of police force. 

Successful black men like Kinsey often face an uphill climb. Blacks contend with twice the unemployment rate that whites do, and have for half a century. College attainment among this demographic is lower: About 21% of the roughly 20 million black men over 25 held bachelors degrees in 2014, compared with an estimated 31% of white men over 25, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Black men also had an oppressively low median income of $26,433. Those that find themselves in white collar and liberal arts professions have said their credentials provide no isolation from undesirable police interactions.

"Just because I'm a Ph.D., I'm not immune from these negative interaction from the police," Ronnie Dunn, a 54-year-old African-American professor of urban studies at Cleveland State University, said in a phone interview. Dunn life's work has revolved around ending racial profiling and egregious uses of lethal force by police in Ohio.

He said a Cleveland officer once threatened him with lethal force as he exited his university office after dark years ago. "Racial profiling is the one thing that all black people still have in common," he said.

Even President Barack Obama, after the police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in early July, acknowledged the disparities in the way the criminal-justice system treats blacks:

"African-Americans are 30% more likely than whites to be pulled over. After being pulled over, African-Americans and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched. Last year, African-Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rate of whites. African-Americans are arrested at twice the rate of whites. African-American defendants are 75% more likely to be charged with offenses carrying mandatory minimums. They receive sentences that are almost 10% longer than comparable whites arrested for the same crime."

Here are the instances of black professional having bad encounters with police while going about their daily lives:

An electrical engineer got in the middle of a fight after leaving a nightclub in Brooklyn and endured a horrific beating.

skilled auto mechanic got pulled over for failing to stop at a stop sign and endured a horrific beating.

federal prosecutor got racially profiled on his way to the movies.

Harvard University professor got arrested for trying to enter his own home.

professional tennis player got tackled by police for loitering.

Read more:
Charles Kinsey Isn't the First Black Man Shot by Police Who Weren't Sure Why They Shot Him
• Charles Kinsey Is Alive and Twitter Is Rejoicing — and That Says a Lot About the US
• New Video Shows Black Man Charles Kinsey Telling Police He's Unarmed Before Being Shot