For the last week, it has been the talk of Rochester, New York. Three African-American high school students were arrested while they waited on a bus to take them to a basketball practice.
And while the local district attorney announced on Tuesday that the charges against the three teenagers would be dropped, it has nonetheless struck a nerve in that upstate New York community. And many are complaining that the event represents nothing more than racial profiling.
According to their coach, the young basketball players were among a group of 10 team members who were sitting at a location used as a regular meeting point for students on the team to get picked up for games.
A police officer asked the group to disperse, but they refused and told the policeman that they were waiting on a school bus. The police officer, however, arrested three of the players. When the coach, Jacob Scott, attempted to intervene, he was told that he, too, might get arrested if he continued to protest the officers’ action.
Scott, who also works as a guidance counselor at a Rochester high school in addition to coaching, said he told the police officers: “Sir, I’m the adult. I’m their varsity basketball coach. How can you book me? What am I doing wrong? Matter of fact, what are these guys doing wrong?’’
Speaking on a local radio program, Scott said that another officer came to the scene and said that “if he had a big enough caravan, he would take all of us downtown.”
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said Tuesday, “We will be moving to withdraw and dismiss the charges," Doorley said in a text following an outcry of support in the community for the athletes and their coach. Even Lovely Warren, the mayor-elect of Rochester, said the situation should have been handled differently.
"After reviewing the facts associated with these arrests, I have decided to dismiss the charges in the interest of justice,” the district attorney said.
Nonetheless, many in Rochester remained angered by the arrests.
“People here are outraged,” said Vincent R. Felder, a legislative aide to Assemblyman David Gantt of Rochester, in an interview with BET.com. “These are good students who did nothing wrong. The police have been talking about the need to improve their relationship with the community and the African-American community. This doesn’t help.”
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(Photo: Robert Billstone/Getty Images)