A 21-year-old black man in Jacksonville, Florida says he was harassed by a white officer and threatened with jail for jaywalking earlier this month, prompting the internet to point out that his only crime was #WalkingWhileBlack.
According to a Facebook video uploaded last week by the jaywalker, Devonte Shipman, the officer said that he would detain Shipman for “up to seven hours” just for not having a license, even though he was simply crossing the street with a friend.
“Three cop cars, all because we crossed the motherfucking street, though,” Shipman said in the video. “We crossed the street. That’s all we did.”
Even though no Florida law states that a person must have a license on them at all times, according to the Miami Herald, Officer J.S. Bolen cited Florida Statute 322.15, in which “Every licensee shall have his or her driver license… in his or her immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle.” But Shipman was walking across the street, not driving.
Ultimately, Shipman was given a $62.50 fine for jaywalking and a $136 fine for not carrying a license. But the Root reports that Shipman does not plan to pay either fine, and he may even go to court over the situation. Meanwhile, Bolen isn’t currently under investigation for the incident.
Online, activists are furious over Shipman’s treatment by Bolen. For many, Bolen’s behavior is clearly a form of racial discrimination, with the officer targeted Shipman and giing him nearly $200 in fines because he is black. Users turned to the hashtag #WalkingWhileBlack to discuss how Bolen’s actions are a form of racial profiling.
Devonte Shipman’s treatment by police comes shortly after footage of Philando Castile’s shooting death during a traffic stop was made public and 30-year-old pregnant mother Charleena Lyles was shot and killed by police. Tensions remain high against American police officers, who many feel are racially profiling and discriminating against black Americans.