NYT Columnist: Yale Police Stopped My Son At Gunpoint

New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow
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January 26, 2015 7:30 a.m.
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New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow’s college-aged son was allegedly stopped at gunpoint Saturday night because he fit the description of a robbery suspect.

Blow relayed what his son told him had happened in an op-ed published Sunday. Tahj Blow, who is black and a student at Yale University, was walking home from the campus library when he realized a police officer was following him. The officer then allegedly raised his gun and told Tahj to turn around and get on the ground.

The officer allowed Tahj to get up and walk away after answering a few questions. But a few seconds later, the officer told Tahj to turn around again to show the back of his jacket and asked him to produce ID.

A female officer who approached Tahj after the first officer let him go a second time explained that some students had called about a robbery suspect and Tahj matched that suspect’s description.

A Yale spokesperson told the New Haven Register that several students reported an individual had entered their rooms while pretending to be looking for someone. The students described the suspect as a tall, African-American, college-aged student dressed in a black jacket and a red and white hat, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson acknowledged that a Yale student who closely matched that description “was briefly detained and released by Yale police,” but did not name the student. The actual suspect was arrested shortly afterward, the spokesperson told the Register.

Blow has written prolifically about race issues, and he connected his son’s experience to that of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two black men killed by police, in a series of tweets Saturday night:

In his op-ed, Blow wrote that he wasn’t angry about the fact that his son was questioned because he fit the description of a robbery suspect. Instead, he took issue with the way the stop was carried out.

“Why was a gun drawn first? Why was he not immediately told why he was being detained? Why not ask for ID first?” he wrote. “What if my son had panicked under the stress, having never had a gun pointed at him before, and made what the officer considered a ‘suspicious’ movement? Had I come close to losing him?”

Blow wrote that the dean of Yale College and the campus police chief had apologized and promised an internal investigation of the incident.

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