An African-American English professor was roughed up by Arizona police, handcuffed, slammed on the squad car, thrown to the pavement, and arrested. Her crime: jaywalking.

You read it right – jaywalking. Who gets arrested for jaywalking these days?

In this particular case, police arrested Arizona State University professor Ersula Ore and charged her with assault on a Tempe, Arizona police officer last month. But Ore says she was the victim, not the assailant. Ore said she was walking home from class at Arizona State University when she was approached by the police officer. Ore was walking in the middle of the street, she said, to avoid construction in the area. In a state with a documented history of aggressive racial profiling, Ore’s case is troubling but not surprising.

Arizona police are well-known for profiling people of color. It took a Super Bowl boycott and several years of activism for the state to restore the Martin Luther King holiday as a paid state holiday. More recently the state enacted a divisive immigration law. There is no legitimate reason, in my view, why Ore was arrested and why the officer felt the need to take Ore to the ground in handcuffs. One look at the video from the officer’s dash camera seems to confirm Ore’s version of the events. She was asking reasonable questions, she was not rowdy, and she told the officer that she was a college professor.

But the officer seemed determined to manhandle her. The Arizona Ethnic Studies Network believes this incident may be connected to racial profiling, and is criticizing ASU for not undertaking a full investigation of the incident. “In a state and metropolitan region in which racial profiling has been proven to be widespread, the ASU administration’s lack of concern for the well-being of an ASU community member of color is unacceptable,” the Arizona Ethnic Studies Network said in a statement.

Appearing CNN’s New Day this week, Ore was asked about the incident and said, “I think I did what I was supposed to do. I was respectful. I asked for clarification. I asked to be treated with respect, and that was it.” In a dashboard camera recording by police, Ore questions officer Stewart Ferrin and asks him to be respectful. They argue and Ferrin threatens to arrest Ore unless she produces her ID.

“If you don’t understand the law, I’m explaining the law to you,” the officer says. “The reason I’m talking to you right now is because you are walking in the middle of the street.” Ore explains that she walked in the street to avoid construction. “I never once saw a single solitary individual get pulled over by a cop for walking across a street on a campus, in a campus location,” she says. Ferrin then tried to handcuff Ore. “Don’t touch me,” Ore says, her voice beginning to rise. “Get your hands off me.”

The officer warns her to put her hands behind her back, or “I’m going to slam you” on the police car. “You really want to do that?” Ore asks. “Do you see what I’m wearing?” Ferrin responds, “I don’t care what you’re wearing.” After a brief tussle as she’s being handcuffed, when her skirt rides up, Ore kicks Ferrin in the leg. Then Ferrin throws Ore to the ground. Her lawyer, Alane M. Roby, says Ferrin’s action caused Ore’s dress to ride up, “exposing her anatomy to all onlookers.”

Ore faces charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, failing to provide ID and obstructing a public thoroughfare. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday. The university said it found “no evidence of inappropriate actions by the ASUPD officers involved.” Given the “underlying criminal charges,” the university declined to provide any more details. It’s troubling that ASU, which is well-aware of racial profiling in Arizona, is apparently throwing Ore under the bus.

On New Day, Ore said the incident started when the officer stopped his car next to her and asked whether she knew the difference between a road and a sidewalk. She said she asked him, “Do you always accost women in the middle of the road and speak to them with such disrespect and so rudely as you did to me?” She said that at no point did he ask her name or tell her why she was being questioned. “He throws the car door open actually, is what happens, and he’s towering over me,” she said. “He’s intimidating. I don’t know why he’s so aggressive.”

Roby said they’ll fight the charges and accused the officer of escalating the situation in violation of his training. “Professor Ore’s one crime that evening was to demand respect that she deserves as a productive, educated and tax-paying member of society,” Roby said in a statement to CNN, adding that they maintain any actions Ore took were in self-defense.

“She can clearly be heard on the dash can video instructing the officer not to grab toward her genital area prior to him reaching for her in attempt to pull her skirt down over her exposed private area,” Roby wrote. At least one person called 911 to report a police officer was getting “way too aggressive” with Ore. I hope more witnesses come forward to corroborate Ore’s version of the events.

Unfortunately, it appears she may need that testimony to prove that she was a victim of excessive force simply because she was walking while Black.

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20 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: Walking While Black- Is It A Crime?

  1. This generation black woman acts to white,be black and proud.this generation black women are negative, un supportive of other sisters, envy and jealousy.remember not all women look the same, nothing makes you better than folks in general are so negative . don’t look st other folks and frown, speak and show some positive vibes of love, when you vibe is ndgative, like mayo said people never forget how you made them feel.

  2. Honestly on said:

    The cave n!@@er with the badge was acting on his depraved indifference to Nubian people. This is why have no concern for the killing of the two cave n!@@ers with badges in Las Vegas. Besides it was cave n!@@er on cave n!@@er violence. These monsters, freaks and savages should have never been let out of the caves of Europe.

  3. seriously on said:

    There is no doubt in my mind, these police officers did not have to treat her so harshly, a jaywalker is hardly a top ten most wanted offense. But Black people should be aware they are out to get you and because they usually get away with it….including murder..She should have showed them her id and file a complaint against them the next day. Because their is more than one way to fight and her’s was a losing plan, doesn’t matter the right or wrong but it is a matter of her own life. She can fight again another day.

    • Dangerous BlkMan on said:

      Hell no she should not have shown the fucking white man her ID. She did nothing wrong. She was in the street just to avoid construction. The cop is the one who saw what he thought was a timid black woman and he got excited. Someone his own size to fight. He didn’t expect her to stand up for herself.
      NO! she shouldn’t have show a ID. And I will never fucking show my ID to those racist pigs.

    • pjamesiii on said:

      kay, perhaps you are ignorant of the law, but it is NOT a crime to refuse to show ID when you are simply walking down the street. If they say that they suspect you of a crime, then you should in order to prevent further aggravation, like being being arrested and hauled down to the station….

      • In 2009 the Texas senate passed legislation to allow police to arrest anyone who fails to identify themselves after being detained. Some might interpret the committing of an act for which one can be arrested as committing a crime. Perhaps this may clarify any confusion you have regarding Texas laws.

  4. cabobby on said:

    She was in the middle of the street. Though she may have had a good reason to walk in the street, there she was. She should have complied with the officer and given him her ID.

  5. jhuf on said:

    She was arrested for assault not jaywalking, she was slammed to the ground because she chose to initiate a physical altercation with the officer what the hell did she or anyone else think would happen, so yes you should expect to get body slammed, when police get into physical altercations they are trained to put the threat to the ground if you choose to wear skirt or dress that stops at your azz that’s your issue.
    As far as “walking while black” the 100 + killed in Chicago so far this year now that’s what I call WWB but I guess since they weren’t killed by “racist white cops” they don’t
    deserve a write-up

    • What is about this scenario that people don’t get? Why has it turned into a conversation about race? She may very well have been profiled, but then again, maybe she was stopped for jay walking. Who knows? One thing I know for sure. She is the one who broke the law, not the cop. Geeze! what’s so damned hard to understand about that?

  6. She didn’t get arrested for jay walking. She got arrested for refusing to produce ID (which is against the law), resisting arrest and assault on a peace officer. Had she showed ID, she may have gotten a ticket, but I’d be willing to bet my forty acres and mule she would not have gotten arrested.

  7. Aaron on said:

    Where are all of the outraged feminist? Here you have a man slamming a woman first on a cop car and then to the ground and not one feminist has raised their voice in this woman’s defense? Its seems to me that every time a Black female is discriminated against or assaulted by a white male is just an issue of race and white or black feminist are no where to be found. So it seems clear to me that feminist will submit to and are fine with white supremacy. We really need to learn that Being Black in America trumps all other titles and this is true for both males, females and children. So lets all unite under that title and stop the petty bickering.

    • seriously on said:

      Black women do not support other Black Women…They tear down each other and remember during the civil rights movement it was mostly black women who gave the names of other black people attending rallies/meetings at church to white people who later killed key activists. A lot of these black women was behind the racists and kkk killing children and other black men and women…It a dirty little not so secret but a true one…Last year on PBS, Dr. Gates did a special on the civil rights movement in MS and it was a black man and woman who gave the kkk and its ilk the whereabouts and travel schedule of the 3 who was killed in MS….In order for us to really progress we will have to separate for a whole mess of coon no groes.. Because we have allowed them to get away with it. And it was a black women who stabbed Dr. King. just saying

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