18-year-old DeShawn Currie came home early from school Monday afternoon, only to have police barge in and assault him with pepper spray. We hear a lot in the news about racial profiling and police brutality, with police and white neighbors automatically assuming black male teenagers are up to no good. The results are often lethal and always hurtful. But what happens when the black, male teenager in question has white parents?
WTVD reports the black teenager lives with his foster parents Ricky and Stacy Tyler and his three younger siblings, the Tylers’ (white) biological children. The family had just moved into their Fuqay-Varina, NC. home in July.
They said while they’re still getting to know their neighbors, it’s hurtful someone would assume DeShawn [Currie] was a burglar just for going about his normal routine of walking home after school.
Ouch. And one can only imagine how DeShawn’s mother felt when she arrived home to find paramedics attending to her son.
This seems like an awfully harsh way for the Taylors to learn about the harsh realities of white privilege and how their own whiteness won’t always protect their son from racial profiling. Yet this is bound to happen more often, since at least 15 percent of America’s families are of mixed-race.
A neighbor got suspicious when Currie entered the side door of the Tyler home and called 911. Three officers swiftly arrived on the scene, startling Currie. He told WTVD:
“They was like, ‘Put your hands on the door. I was like, ‘For what? This is my house.’ I was like, ‘Why are y’all in here?'”
Of course the officers don’t believe him. The WTVD news reports mentions Currie doesn’t like having his picture taken, but what followed may make him reconsider. Police pointed to family photos on the Tylers’ mantel, which only showed the couple and their younger (white) children, as proof that Currie didn’t belong in his own house.
By the time foster children reach their teens, they’ve gone through a lot of instability and heartache. Plus they had just moved. Still, after a year with the Tylers, Currie was starting to feel secure, happy, and loved. Currie explains that the pepper-spraying incident left him feeling shaken.
I’m feeling comfortable. I had moved into my room, and I’m feeling like I’m loved. And then when they come in and they just profile me and say that I’m not who I am. And that I do not stay here because there was white kids on the wall, that really made me mad.
The Tylers also feel saddened. Stacy told WTVD Currie’s “my baby boy just as much as my other three children are,” and added that she and Ricky didn’t even know how to respond to Currie’s five-year-old sister’s distress:
My 5-year-old last night, she looked at me and said, ‘Mama I don’t understand why they hated our brother, and they had to come in and hurt him.’
Of course, the police department offered only the usual lame excuses for racial profiling and police brutality, claiming Currie acted “defiant and belligerent” (who wouldn’t, in that situation?) and that the neighborhood had “recently experienced criminal activity” (like assaulting a teenage boy?).
The Tylers went in to the police station to talk about what happened with their son, and we doubt Fuqay-Varina’s finest have seen the last of them. It’s harder for police and neighbors to get away with racial profiling and violence towards a black teenager who’s got white parents to defend him.
WTVD reports on police assaulting DeShawn Currie with pepper spray in his own home.
h/t The Raw Story.