Submitted by Kelby Cumpston
The following story was written by Michelle Cooks (Managing Director of Feed the Need in W. Bloomington).
On Thursday, September 8th 2011, a black male driving a 1999 Lincoln Towncar was stopped by Normal Police on Main Street. The driver was not speeding or driving erratically. He had not been drinking or using drugs. In fact, he was delivering a microwave to a lady that didn’t have a stove.
When the officer approached, his first question to the driver was “Is this your car?” The driver replied that it was and asked why he had been stopped. The officer reportedly replied, “I would have pulled you over anyway, but your driving permit is expired.”
The driver explained that he had receive a letter from the Secretary of State Safety and Financial Responsibility Section that he had met the financial responsibility requirements, and was cleared for reinstatement. Unfortunately for the driver, the letter was not in his car. The officers agreed to let a second party bring the letter to the scene and said he would be released.
When the second party, a black female, arrived at the scene to get the driver’s house key, the officers said they had made a mistake and their lieutenant said the driver had to be arrested, charged with a felony, and his car had to be impounded. He was taken to McLean County Jail, incarcerated over night, and his car was towed away by Joe’s Towing.
It’s important to note that the officers said this was because the driver had a DUI in 2009.
Since 2009 the driver has been clean and sober, renewed his Christian Walk, became an entrepreneur business owner of a local convenience store, and created a volunteer group to help the needy in West Bloomington. In fact, he was delivering a microwave to a client at the time he was stopped.
Yes, his permit was expired, but he had received a reinstatement clearance notice from the Secretary of the State which he mistakenly thought allowed him to drive legally.
A felony conviction for this black man who has turned his life around and works everyday to help others? This felony would not only destroy the progress he’s made personally, but it would destroy any hope of continuing his store and his organization to help the needy.
The irony of this story is that a day later on September 9th, three white males were in a local establishment touting their luck that they had been stopped by Normal police while driving and each drinking open 40oz beers. The officer reportedly saw them and said “I’m sure you guys haven’t had much, so we’ll just pour the beer out and let you go; just don’t let it happen again.”
* The man in this story is Brad Jones. Brad is the sole proprietor of Market St. Food Market and the founder of Feed the Need.Information on Feed the Need can be found here: www.feedtheneedblono.tumblr.com. Feed the Need has been host to many Common Action Free School events and offers space continually to the activist community. Brad needs to raise $500 by Wednesday if he wants to remain free from jail and without a felony on his record. The money will be used to get the supporting documents to secure his legal status from the State of Illinois. With this, the case will be dropped. He unfortunately faces a continually raising fee (last reported of $250) from Joe’s Towing and a $500 release for his car from Normal. Please share this story and link with anyone in the Bloomignton/Normal community. http://bradjonesresistance.chipin.com/brad-jones-resistance
* There has been a facebook group created that intends to spread throughout the town in order to allow others to keep up with the progress of this case and others that will have light shed on them. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/263515603682542/
* The next step after this is creating a new website dedicated to collecting and sharing stories of racial profiling within the community past or present. For those with stories yet lack the ability to access the web or expressive communication, a number is set up for them to call and verbally explain their story. The number is 408-753-5292. The story will be transposed by volunteer editors. If you are interested please keep posted with this group and encourage more people to join.