A Young Black Man in Texas was Racially Profiled During a Winter Storm. Because Racial Profiling Knows No Barriers

18-year-old Rodney Reese was apprehended while walking home from his job at Walmart in freezing temperatures.

18-year-old Rodney Reese was arrested on February 16 in Plano, TX, and charged with being a pedestrian in the roadway. Misdemeanor charges were recently dropped against Rodney, which is great, but they never should have been filed, to begin with. During one of the most brutal winters in the history of Texas, law enforcement officials found time to follow a young Black man who was heading home wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt. What began as a response to a wellness check devolved into Rodney being handcuffed as he was walking home from his job at Walmart.

According to ABC News, Plano officers approached Rodney initially to see if he was okay and then told him they were conducting an investigation and that he was being detained. As Reese was trying to get home out of inclement weather he was alleged to have resisted the officers’ detainment leading to a light altercation and him being handcuffed. 

Plano Police Chief Ed Drain told the local affiliate, KDFW-TV, that the charge was dropped against Rodney because the arrest “wasn't consistent with why officers were called to investigate.”

“They should’ve taken him home, is where he should’ve gone,” Drain said in a statement after originally backing the officers who made the arrest, stating they did not know his age or where he worked. This is what admittedly makes this a case of unnecessary racial profiling. The fact that the officers opted not to take him home and instead chose to interrogate and threaten him with arrest, and then arrested him.

But these incidents of police harassment, brutality and violence have been consistent over the course of the past pandemic year. Last summer Rayshard Brooks was fatally shot in Atlanta in a Wendy’s parking lot after police responded to a call about him sleeping in the drive-thru lane. Rayshard was intoxicated at the time of the incident and pleaded with the officers to allow him to walk home. As opposed to offering him a ride, they interrogated a visibly drunk person then tried to handcuff him. After Rayshard tussled with the officer over a stun gun and then proceeded to run from him, the officer fired multiple shots in his back killing him.

It has also been disturbing to notice that in many recorded instances of police aggression against Black people over the past year, officers can be seen on camera apprehending Black folks without wearing protective masks. Due to the nature of police work, officers are at high risk of contracting and transmitting the coronavirus but have made their way into Black communities unmasked and antagonistic. The harassment and brutality have given no deference to the unique history we are all living in, it’s just continuing as business as usual.

Fortunately for Rodney Reese, his charge was overturned, and the crime of walking while Black will not remain on his record. Because it is one thing to have to contend with the bitter cold of an unprecedented weather event, and something else to have to deal with the icy callousness of racial profiling when all you want to do is get out of the freezing world and find some warmth at home.