It’s a shame when a Black person can’t enter his own home without being accused of breaking and entering. In Wake County, North Carolina, the white foster parents of a Black male high school student are outraged that police pepper-sprayed him inside their home after a neighbor mistook him for an intruder.
Ricky and Stacy Tyler have fostered 18-year-old DeShawn Currie for about a year. The Tylers, their three young children and DeShawn moved to Fuquay-Varina in July. They said while they’re still getting to know their neighbors, it’s hurtful someone would assume DeShawn was a burglar just for going about his normal routine of walking home after school.
“He’s my baby boy just as much as my other three children are,” said Stacy.
She left the side door to their home unlocked Monday for DeShawn, who was coming home early from school.
Fuquay-Varina police said when a neighbor saw DeShawn walk in; they called 911 to report a break-in. Soon, three officers were inside the house, all to DeShawn’s surprise.
“They was like, ‘Put your hands on the door,'” said DeShawn. “I was like, ‘For what? This is my house.’ I was like, ‘Why are y’all in here?'”
DeShawn said he became angry when officers pointed out the pictures of the Tyler’s three younger children on the mantle, assuming he didn’t belong there. An argument ensued and DeShawn said one of the officers pepper-sprayed him in the face.
By the time Stacy came home, EMS were treating DeShawn in the driveway. She cleared up the confusion with the officers, but not with the rest of her family.
“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.'”
“Everything that we’ve worked so hard for in the past years was stripped away yesterday in just a matter of moments,” said Ricky Tyler.
“I’m feeling comfortable,” explained DeShawn. “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.”
Fuquay-Varina police released a statement Monday saying officers responded to a report of suspicious criminal activity at the Tyler’s home. Officers accused DeShawn of becoming threatening and belligerent and said that when he would not follow the officers’ instructions, they pepper-sprayed him. Police also indicated in their statement that the neighborhood where this happened has recently experienced criminal activity.
And that means what? That the neighbor and police officers were justified in suspecting this Black male was a robber and deserved to be questioned and his story could immediately be deemed as incredulous? Given the recent behavior of police officers around the nation, DeShawn is lucky that he wasn’t seriously hurt or killed. Unfortunately these types of racial profiling encounters are “rites of passage” for too many people of color in this nation.