Gabrielle L. had to be quick on her feet when she was pulled over at a narcotic stop knowing she had marijuana on her. The viral video that followed demonstrated that there's one more use for a wig.
Out of all the 50 states, the recreational use of cannabis is only legal in 11, as well as Washington, D.C. So if you live in any of those states that have not legalized marijuana and you like to partake every once in a while, you’ve got to be resourceful in order to not get caught by the authorities. Along with this, getting pulled over while Black is already a large fear for a lot of people in our community, especially since we are arrested and prosecuted at a much higher rate for possession of marijuana than our white counterparts -- approximately 3.73 times more likely, to be specific, according to the ACLU.
So, after seeing the video that Gabrielle posted a video of police officers searching her vehicle, while she stood back, "They looking for the weed. Whole time it's under my wig," BET caught up with her to find out the series of events that happened that day that had her thinking quicker than we ever would. Get the popcorn ready, because it’s a good one!
It was an off day for Gabrielle. She decided to take a little road trip but was telling her friends that she wasn’t having a good feeling about her travels. Originally from Pensacola, Florida, the 21-year-old decided to drive the 400 miles from Dallas, where her and her mother currently live, to Mississippi in order to pick up her older brother. Before the circumstance that happened in her viral video, Gabrielle had already been pulled over that day in Louisiana.
“I actually got pulled over twice that day. On the way there, I’m not gonna lie, I was kind of speeding the first time.” Gabrielle explains bashfully. “So, [the cop] got behind me, and the first thing I did was put everything in my wig! I was panicked. I was not about to go to jail.”
After receiving her ticket, Gabrielle decided to slow down and drive safely with a slight sense of relief. But that sense of relief quickly slipped away when she noticed a sign for a narcotics check point 30 minutes away from where she initially got pulled over. With that sense of panic creeping back in, Gabrielle decided to pull off at the next exit where she was then met by more squad cars and pulled over again. This time, it was by three officers. Yikes!
“I put everything right back in my wig and I sprayed [the car],” Gabrielle laughs. “He comes up to the window and he says, ‘You know your tint is too dark?’ and I said, ‘Um, I don't think so. I mean, I got it done at the dealership so I don't think they would put an illegal tint on my car.’”
The cops proceeded to ask Gabrielle if she had ever been arrested and if she had anything illegal in her car. After this car side interrogation, the officer questioning Gabrielle somehow came to the conclusion that she was acting suspicious. Well, of course. She's a young Black woman driving alone in the South. Sounds suspicious, right? She was asked to step out of the car so that the police could search it. This is the glimpse we see when she posted the short clip of her car being searched to her Snapchat while she waited patiently several yards away with her weed tucked under in her unit. Genius!
“Of course, I didn't want to give him any kind of problems 'cause I'm already in the situation. So they’re looking through the car and I'm just sitting back, talking to the other police officer. I’m sitting there talking to him, having normal conversation. So the other officers come back and they ask me, ‘So where is it?’”
Masking her shaken nerves, Gabrielle says she stayed cool, calm and collected. After she continually told them she had no marijuana on her and that she doesn’t smoke, despite the officers telling her they could smell it in her car, she stuck to her story.
"I said, 'Sir, I do not smoke. I do not know what you're talking about right now. Then they looked at me and they said, 'Do you have anything on your person?' I started squeezing all over and I said, 'Nope! You can check me. There's nothing on me.'"
After going back and forth and finding no corroborating evidence, the officers had no choice but to let Gabrielle go.
Reflecting on the situation, Gabrielle says she was pretty nervous but she thought, “Who would think to look under someone’s wig? And people in my hometown would clown me if I went to jail for some marijuana, so I was not about to go to jail!”
After seeing her video go viral, people had mixed emotions about a situation that Gabrielle thought was pretty funny in hindsight. While some were mad at her for simply giving away a secret hiding place for your stash, other questioned why she even got out of the car in the first place.
“All three of them was white. You have one middle aged, one older and then one younger a little bit. You all think I’m going to give three Caucasian officers a problem in Louisiana? I’m not ‘bout to do that!”
Gabrielle L. is one of our sheroes! She truly used her resources, a.k.a. her wig, to get out of a sticky situation. You, go Gabrielle!
Editor's Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Gabrielle's last name is abbreviated for her own protection.