Esteemed Princeton professor Dr. Imani Perry is not so much protesting the fact that she got arrested. It was what happened during and after the apprehension that has caused controversy and outrage at this pristine and proud Ivy League school in New Jersey.
Perry was arrested on outstanding traffic tickets from 2013, which invalidated her license, after police reportedly caught her doing 67 mph in a 45 mph zone. The arrest was seemingly routine: Perry was handcuffed, put in the back of a police cruiser, and taken to the police station for processing. Perry quickly paid her outstanding fines and was released a few hours later.
It was when Perry returned home and posted a note on social media about the arrest that her situation degenerated to precarious and perilous. According to Perry, a white male officer performed the body search on Perry despite the fact that a white female officer was on the scene. She addressed it in this post, according to the New York Times.
“What they fail to understand is that I did not purport to be without fault. Now, make no mistake, I do not believe I did anything wrong. But even if I did, my position holds. The police treated me inappropriately and disproportionately. The fact of my blackness is not incidental to this matter.” Nia Perry-Facebook
Unexpectedly, an outbreak of hostility and profane threats greeted this note, leaving Perry frightened for her safety, because she allegedly brought embarrassment to the prestigious school and the city of Princeton.
In an act of desperation, Perry returned to post this about what the police department did to her:
“The Princeton police are releasing the video of my arrest and my home address is visible. Given the hostility online this puts me and my family at risk,” she wrote. “There are a number of commentators online who have repeated to me an all-too-common formulation: ‘Well, if you hadn’t done anything wrong, this wouldn’t have happened.’ But this demand for behavioral perfection from Black people in response to disproportionate policing and punishment is a terrible red herring.”
Perry said she was forced to shut down her Twitter account when high-tech vigilantes tried to change her password multiple times. The toxic atmosphere reached such a level that Perry’s colleagues in Princeton’s Department of African American Studies posted an open letter in her defense:
“We, the faculty and staff of Princeton’s Department of African American Studies, write to express unequivocal support for our beloved colleague Professor Imani Perry. We were outraged to hear of her treatment at the hands of the Princeton police: that a male officer subjected her to a pat-down in the presence of a female officer and that she was handcuffed to a table after her arrest for an unpaid parking ticket.”
Photos: YouTube screenshot and Facebook profile picture