Monday, January 19, 2009

Walking While Brown

Yesterday Zach had an encounter with the Santa Clara Police Department. While walking around looking for a nearby park, he stopped and asked an older woman for directions. A few minutes later an SCPD police cruiser rolls up on him and he is stopped and questioned for a while and then released.

A few details may make this a bit more clear:
  • It was broad daylight -- around 4PM
  • The woman was white
  • We live in a predominantly white neighborhood
  • Zach is half-Pakistani, but looks Hispanic to most observers

Joahnna called the police and complained about this, and in the ensuing discussion, it turned out the woman Zach asked for directions thought that he looked "suspicious" and called the police.

Joahnna and I are at a loss as to what to tell Zach if he wishes to avoid being periodically stopped and checked. It seems as if the bar for "suspicious" is suspiciously low.

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