A former NBA player who plays basketball in Italy now, says he was racially profiled by Italian police while walking the streets of Milan with his friends and claims guns were pointed at them.
Mike James, who plays overseas for the Olimpia Milano Italian league, says he and two of his friends were targeted without cause by the police and stopped on a residential street on Saturday, The Daily Mail reports.
He tweeted, recalling the incident outside Milan’s city center and claimed that they were singled out because of race.
“Me and my friends Just profiled by the police…it happens even in Europe,” James tweeted. “Police stopped me and my two friends in the midst of 50 people walking. Got out they car with guns in hand talking about show me ID…I’m not reaching for s— until u put your gun away.”
Police stopped me and my two friends in the midst of 50 people walking. Got out they car with guns in hand talking about show me ID smh. I’m not reaching for shit until u put your gun away
— Mike James (@TheNatural_05) January 5, 2019
A spokesman from Milan’s police told The Associated Press that the James’ encounter with their officers was a “routine check.”
But James’ account doesn’t sound routine at all.
James tweeted, “They gon tell me to stay calm this is normal. Ain’t nothin normal about hopping out a car pointing guns at people.”
The spokesman denies that the officers pointed guns at the men, explaining that one of the three Carabinieri cops was carrying a M12 submachine gun and the other two officers had pistols on their belts, which he said were not pointed at the men.
“We asked him for his documents and once they were checked everyone dispersed,” the spokesman added. “For us it wasn’t even a check worth reporting. It was an absolutely calm situation without any problems.”
James, who formerly played in the NBA for the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans, shared video of the aftermath of the incident on Twitter.
This video is 20 minutes after the fact. By this video they found out i was a basketball player and wanted to have conversation. But i mean u can report what u want. https://t.co/QKKmKDJovu
— Mike James (@TheNatural_05) January 6, 2019