Arrested for being WHITE? Grandfather who was repeatedly stopped and cuffed for walking with his black granddaughter
By JR on Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Scott Henson is a self-described Texas redneck, white and middle-aged. His granddaughter Ty -- the five-year-old daughter of his goddaughter -- is black and Mr Henson often finds himself babysitting her.
And that pairing has apparently drawn the suspicion of police in Mr Henson's hometown of Austin, Texas. Twice in three years, he has been swarmed by officers and questioned aggressively -- for no other reason than being a white man walking down the sidewalk with a little black girl, he says.
On his blog Grits for Breakfast, Mr Henson says he is the victim of 'babysitting while white' -- over-zealous racial profiling by police who are suspicious of anything out of the ordinary.
On Friday, the most recent run-in with cops, he was handcuffed and detained and separated from his terrified granddaughter by officers who claimed they had received an anonymous report of a white man kidnapping a black girl.
In November 2008, while police cordoned off parts of Austin searching for two suspected killers, Mr Henson said he received similar treatment while walking home from the park.
In each encounter, Mr Henson said he was terse with officers and reluctant to give information because he was insulted that he was being stopped and questioned for being with a little girl of a different race. He maintains he had no obligation to cooperate.
But he says the subsequent police response was rude, incompetent and terrifying to his young granddaughter.
As Mr Henson, a political consultant and retired journalist who runs a popular blog about the criminal justice system in Texas, was walking home from a roller rink Friday night with his granddaughter, he was swarmed by several police squad cars.
Scott Henson and Ty
Adopted family: Ty is the daughter of Scott Henson's goddaughter -- a woman who came to live with Mr Henson and his wife when she was a child
He had been approached by a deputy constable earlier who questioned what he was doing with the little girl. The officer claimed she had received a report of a white man kidnapping a black child.
When more police arrived, they grabbed Mr Henson, he says, and jerked his armed behind him and handcuffed him.
'Ty edged up the hill away from the officers, crying. One of them called out in a comforting tone that they weren't there to hurt her, but another officer blew up any good will that might have garnered by brusquely snatching her up and scuttling her off to the back seat of one of the police cars,' he writes.
Meanwhile, he says, the officers stalled and refused to call his wife and the other people whose phone numbers he gave to verify his relationship with the little girl.
Before he was released by the officers, without apologies, Mr Henson said 10 squad cars encircled the bicycle path he was walking, a few blocks from his house.
Ultimately, neither encounter with police has left a lasting impact on his life, he says. But he fears officers' ham-fisted approach has had a bigger impact on little Ty.
'I'd like her to view police as people she can trust instead of threats to her and her family, but it's possible I live in the wrong neighborhood for that.,' he wrote.