Students report mixed experiences with cops

By Wangari Muranga - Staff Reporter

Some African-American students at Highline say they feel as though they're treated unjustly by police officers because of their skin color. 

Others, however, say they're not.

Some students said they felt they're treated differently because they're black, such as student Rayshawn Blackwell.

Blackwell said that he'd never had a good encounter with an officer before.

"The first time I witnessed it was when I was young and I saw my mother get arrested for a petty reason," Blackwell said. 

"My mom called the police on her boyfriend because he dented the door and when they came, they arrested her because they thought her reason for calling was stupid," he said.

Joey Taylor had a similar story

"When I was in the eighth grade and I was waiting for the bus, they stopped me as the bus came and they stopped the bus as well to question me because I looked like a suspect," Taylor said.

Some students say they have not only been treated differently by just policemen, because of their color, but also by their peers, teachers, and even Wal-Mart workers.

Ederly Beausilien said he didn't have many encounters with police but he did feel racially discriminated against at a local Wal-Mart.

"At Wal-Mart I remember I bought something and was leaving and the person by the door made me show my receipt, but everyone before me who was white didn't have to," Beausilien said.

Another student, Mary Ahmed, said that she and her friends would go to the store and the owner would always follow them when they were together. But when she went by herself, she wasn't followed."

No one who was interviewed had experienced police brutality personally, but most had definitely faced racial discrimination and/or racial profiling, whether it was alone or in a big group.

But there were some African-American students, such as Otuma Kazelausha, who say they don't feel like they get treated differently because of their skin color.

"I see it like this, not everyone will like you, and most importantly, not everyone will dislike or hate you," Kazelausha said. "There is good and bad, so I shut down the bad and focus on the good."

Kazelausha said that everyone will always have their own opinion and what others think or say about you doesn't have to be true because it's their opinion.

"Your opinion is the only thing that matters," Kazelausha said.

Derek Roseboro had a similar message.

"If you know who you are and you know what you're worth, you shouldn't be too much affected," said Roseboro.

Rosboro said that he has been pulled over several times by the police and never once has experienced police brutality, he also said he has never felt racially discriminated against.

Even being so, a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation says that about a third of African Americans say they've experienced some type of racial discrimination.

A national movement called Black Lives Matter, campaigns against the violence and systematic racism towards black people. 

The Black Lives Matter movement really arose in 2012, after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch, George Zimmerman.

Some African American students at Highline said that they support this movement strongly because of things they've seen and have been through themselves.

Ahmed said she really supports the Black Lives Matter movement because "they (those discriminating against black people) need to realize not all black people are the same."

Student Lidiya Ayele, who said she had never faced racial discrimination, said "I support the movement 100 percent because I do see the problem."

"Black people are treated differently than any other race and if anything it (the movement) should be bigger," she said.

Even though some students say they've never been discriminated against, this is still an issue.

"They see a black thug and they think that all black people are thugs," an anonymous student said. "They base all of us off of a small portion of us and it's not fair."

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