Another day, another task to add to the ever-growing list of things Black folks can’t do for fear of having a completely unwarranted and volatile run-in with the police.
On Saturday, Jamar Mackey was enjoying lunch with his family at a food court inside of a local Virginia Beach Mall. Well, that was the case until two Virginia Beach police officers handcuffed Mackey without explanation.
Visibly and understandably upset, Mackey and his wife began questioning the officers who continued to escort Mackey from the food court and outside of the building. In a video posted to Facebook, you can hear Mackey and the woman with him trying to get some answers from the officers but to no avail.
“But what did he do?” the woman questioned. “Can you just tell us, we just came with our babies. We don’t even have a Black truck.”
Insider reports that when officers finally got outside, they attempted to explain the situation to Mackey and his family, who had followed them outside to continue recording. According to police, Mackey and apparently his son “matched the description” of a person they were looking for who was suspected of using stolen credit cards inside the mall. “We got a description of someone who was using stolen credit cards, OK?” police explained after finally removing the handcuffs from off of a now irate Mackey. “That person is a Black male with dreads and was wearing all black and was with a boy who was wearing red, OK?” The camera then pans over to another pair that a different set of police were also questioning on the other side of the mall entrance.
“It was a big misunderstanding,” the officer explained. The woman with Mackey responded, “this is so embarrassing” and proceeded to ask for the name of the officer and number that she could call to handle the matter further.
The Virginia Beach Police Department has since launched an investigation into the incident and Chief of Police Paul Neudigate said in a statement:
“Certainly, anyone would be upset about being detained for something they didn’t do,” said Chief Neudigate. “While the video shows the officer stayed calm and respectful throughout the brief encounter, we must ensure the situation merits the response. We are gathering all the facts to evaluate the incident so we can address the concerns people have raised.”
According to WAVY-TV, the Virginia Beach Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is also launching an investigation and released a statement in regards to the incident saying:
The Virginia Beach NAACP strongly condemns the apparent racial bias on display in the video clip that has widely circulated on social media today. In the midst of a global pandemic, Virginia Beach police officers – without masks or personal protective equipment – mistakenly detained a Black man who was spending quality time with his family. As a Virginia Beach officer stated ‘you have the right to be upset,’ and indeed we are just that: quite upset. Even more alarming, calls from the Virginia Beach NAACP to the Virginia Beach Police Chief remain unanswered as of Sunday evening. We are demanding a meeting with the Virginia Beach Police Chief within 48 hours. As the police department has not responded to our inquiries, the Virginia Beach NAACP has launched its own investigation into the incident. The NAACP will not rest until every Black citizen in Virginia Beach can shop, dine, and travel without being racially profiled by our city’s police officers.
The Virginia Beach police chief has since apologized to Mackey and his family.