Reading while black: Canadian man stopped by police after reading a book in his car
By Michael Schaub
Jul 12, 2016 | 10:18 AM
Louizandre Dauphin was having a tough week.
The Bathurst, New Brunswick, director of parks, recreation and tourism says he'd been thinking about the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers, and needed to get out of his apartment.
In an Instagram post, Dauphin wrote, "I decided to take a drive to the Stonehaven Wharf and sit by the water on this cold, rainy July day and try to pacify my mind by reading the works of Timothy Keller and C.S. Lewis."
On his drive back home, he was pulled over by an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
"Thankfully, he is kind and respectful and asks me the usual questions; where I'm from and where I'm going," Dauphin wrote. "I tell him that I was at the Stonehaven Wharf reading a book pointing to the two books in the passenger seat. He smiles and says that a few citizens in Janeville called the police because of a suspicious black man in a white car was parked at the Wharf for a couple hours."
After verifying Dauphin's identity, the police officer let the former high school English teacher go.
"So, a black male, sitting in his car, reading a book is suspicious activity," Dauphin wrote. "Good to know. At this rate, I may never leave my home again." He ended the post (below) with the hashtag "#DangerousNegro.”
Dauphin told CBC News that this wasn't his first time being questioned by police officers in Canada.
"[It] is just a reminder that no matter where we go in this country, there can be profiling or suspicion," Dauphin said. "We can't be so quick to point fingers or feel we're more exceptional than our American counterparts."
The RCMP disputes that race was a factor in the incident, the Canadian Press reports, saying that the call about a suspicious man near the wharf did not mention his ethnicity.
Contrary to his Instagram post, Dauphin told a reporter that race didn't come up in his conversation with the officer who pulled him over.
Nonetheless, Dauphin believes the incident is an example of a "systemic problem" involving people of color and the police.
"When you get pulled over for reading it does seem a little ridiculous," he said.