The long-troubling practice of racial profiling by law enforcement is an issue at the root of the police war on Black lives. One former corrections officer recently received the most humiliating reminder of that very fact.
Ronald Lanier is a 53-year-old retired corrections officer, military veteran and 9/11 volunteer, so when police officers suddenly approached him from behind and demanded that he put his hands behind his back while he was shopping for cooking oil in a local Nassau County, Long Island supermarket last week, he was caught off guard. Lanier says he complied with the officers’ instructions, while simultaneously questioning them about the reason he was being apprehended. He also says he uttered the words, “I’m on the job”––which is apparently a phrase officers use to identify themselves to one another.
However, his cooperation was to no avail.
Lanier says the arresting officers didn’t believe him and went on to mock him, punch him in the head and punch him in the body while he was down on the ground. Newsday reports that the beating only stopped after the retired serviceman began to urge shoppers to record the incident with their phones. “I was stripped of my service, stripped of my humanity, stripped of my dignity,” Lanier said Friday, while fighting back tears at a news conference in Hempstead. He was treated for bruises at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola shortly following the incident.
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Garden City Police Inspector Michael J. Doyle revealed on Friday that law enforcement arrested the real suspect in the same supermarket that day and charged him for the theft of two designer handbags from the Lord & Taylor department store, among other things. Lanier said the actual suspect––who is also Black––is 100 pounds heavier than him and was wearing all black. Lanier was dressed in brown clothing.
The former corrections officer said he has notified the Garden City Police Department of plans to sue. “The reason this happened was not because he was doing anything wrong, but because they say they were looking for a Black man,” Lanier’s attorney, Frederick Brewington said Friday. “And, the Black man just happens to be an officer who was in the store. Not every Black man is a suspect.”