Illinois state representative stopped by police for wearing mask

The legislator says he was racially profiled while shopping and worries that other Black men will be, too.

Illinois state representative Kam Buckner, like many Americans, was simply trying to comply with the CDC and state and city mandates to wear a cloth covering or mask over his face to protect himself and others.

While out shopping on Sunday, reports ABC7 Chicago, Buckner was asked by a police officer to show the receipt for the items he’d purchased and to see his ID. He did what the officer asked.

But in a series of tweets, Buckner described how the situation deteriorated from there.

When he asked the officer, who he says was in uniform, he was told that “People are using the coronavirus to do bad things. I couldn’t see your face, man. You looked like you were up to something.”


Buckner went on to say that the encounter, which he says happened outside a store in the South Loop, left him wondering if as a self-described 6-foot, 4-inch tattooed black man from Chicago’s South Side, he was vulnerable to racial profiling based on his appearance. He says that when he’s not working, his usual attire is a hoodie, jeans and Jordans.

Bucker went on to say he struggled with sharing his experience publicly because it’s happened to him before.

But he felt compelled to do so because he knows that some Black men will be targeted for looking like ‘they’re up to something’ just for complying with a state order to protect their own health and that of others.

Illinois Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton, also African-American, tweeted Buckner that she was sorry for what happened and agreeing that there were many inequities exposed by the coronavirus that still needed to be addressed.

Governor JB Pritzer acknowledged the incident as well.

“It’s something that we’re looking into. We obviously believe that there is discriminatory behavior taking place here so we are going to try to make sure that we try to address it,” Pritzer said.

The Chicago Police department issued their own statement, according to ABC7 Chicago. 

Based on the limited information supplied to the Chicago Police Department, we are currently unable to authenticate that this incident involved a CPD member.

All investigatory stops must be predicated on reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred, is occurring or is about to occur. Anyone who believes that they may have been treated unfairly can submit a complaint to a CPD supervisor, CPD’s Office of Internal Affairs and/or the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.

It is not Buckner’s first run-in with Chicago police. In 2019, he was arrested and charged with a DUI when police found him asleep behind the wheel at an intersection, reports At the time, he told police he was “exhausted” but failed a field sobriety test.

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