Questlove says he has been racially profiled by police 20 to 30 times. Earlier this week a judge ruled it "unconstitutional" for New York City police officers to stop-and-frisk civilians "regardless of whether they believe a crime has been committed." Because many of those targeted are African-American and Latino males, opposers of the controversial tactic see stop-and-frisk as a form of racial discrimination.
Speaking to Democracy Now, the Grammy-winning drummer and co-founder of The Roots crew detailed his first experience with police discrimination."There's nothing like the first time a gun is held on you," he said of the 1987 incident, which became one of many he has been through over the years.
As a teen Quest and friends were pulled over on their way back from buying U2's The Joshua Tree. Luckily, he was already schooled in dealing with authorities and immediately threw his hands up. "How I knew that was the protocol at that young age, I mean, it’s probably a sad commentary, but it was also a matter of survival,” The Roots drummer said.
Despite his worldwide fame, the Philly native still gets stopped "all the time." His most recent run-in took place two weeks ago on the way back from DJ-ing a gig in Brooklyn. "I definitely know that I was stopped for unknown reasons," he explained. "I was just the wrong person in the wrong automobile."Although a few specific incidents were pointed out when asked, Quest estimated his police discrimination tally as being "in the 20s and 30s."
"It is absolutely probably the most humiliating, lowing feeling a human being can have," he added.
As for the fate of stop-and-frisk, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he will appeal the ruling.
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(Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)