A black Arizona man has written a post detailing how he was stopped by police while carrying a gun, but treated with mutual respect by officers, in an attempt to challenge the view that all cops in America are racist.
The detailed account has since gone viral, and faced praise and criticism in equal measure.
Steven Hildreth, Jr. was stopped for a broken headlight but he instantly told officers he was carrying a weapon when they asked, explaining that he was a member of the National Guard. He claims cops were reasonable and treated him with complete respect and professionalism.
I’m a black man wearing a hoodie and strapped. According to certain social movements, I shouldn’t be alive right now because the police are allegedly out to kill minorities. Maybe…just maybe…that notion is bunk. Maybe if you treat police officers with respect, they will do the same to you.
Hildreth shared the post with the hashtags #bluelivesmatter and #ALLlivesmatter, challenging the view that all cops in the U.S. are institutionally racist following a number of high profile shootings.
Some on Facebook praised Hildreth for sharing his story, pointing to how we so often see the negative stories of police officers but rarely see positive accounts given publicity.
Hildreth later added: “Again, I’d like to thank the TPD and their officers for their consistent professionalism, courtesy, and the good work that they do, both in this particular contact and every day.”
However, others were angry with Hildreth and noted that his story was an exception, rather than the norm. One commenter added: “Tell Tamir Rice’s mother and Eric Garner that”, citing two high profile cases of young African Americans who were shot by the police.
Speaking to the BBC, Frank Roberts, Lecturer on race at NYU expanded on those feelings, saying:
One African American being treated with respect does not erase the tens of thousands which have not been treated with respect. And that’s really at the core of this issue – this idea that somehow, if we just behave and respect police that they are going to respect us, is quite frankly just not accurate.