According to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, black men have legitimate reasons to fear police and therefore should not be deemed suspicious when they try to run from police encounters.
The court determined this on Tuesday during a case in which they threw out the conviction of Jimmy Warren, who was stopped by police investigating a break-in. The description of the suspects was given as three black men, described as wearing “dark clothing.” Warren and another man were seen to be wearing dark clothing and fled when police approached.
Warren was then arrested and searched and was found to be carrying an unlicensed gun and was charged with illegal possession, but the court threw out the conviction and stated that Warren should not have been stopped in the first place.
Matthew Segal, the legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said that Tuesday’s ruling was a “powerful” one.
“The state’s highest court, in talking about people of color, it’s saying that their lives matter and under the law, their views matter,” Segal said. “The reason that’s significant is that all the time in police-civilian encounters there are disputes about what is suspicious and what is not suspicious. So this is an opinion that looks at those encounters through the eyes of a black man who might justifiably be concerned that he will be the victim of profiling.”