*A Black photographer has launched a racial profiling complaint against the Arlington, Virginia police department after a white neighbor questioned why he was sitting in his car in their neighborhood and called police.
Marlon Crutchfield — a professional real estate photographer, retired Army veteran and Bronze Star recipient — said in a video posted to Facebook that the incident started when he was waiting for a Dec. 21 appointment to photograph a home in the Foxcroft Heights neighborhood. He said a man approached his car and asked if he needed any help.
“Every Black person knows what this means,” Crutchfield wrote. “After the gentleman didn’t get the response he expected, he reached out to a few other neighbors one of them called the police. 10 mins later I was pulled out of the house where my appointment was and interrogated by Arlington’s finest.”
He added: “NEVER have I been so embarrassed. It was hurtful and demeaning in so many ways.”
Crutchfield continued, “I’ve had several run-ins with nosy neighbors concerned that a Black man was parked in their neighborhood. Usually it’s ‘can I help you’ and I reply wit a quick ‘no.’ Then it’s what are you taking pictures for. I never respond to that one. It’s simply none of their business.”
Crutchfield asked one of the responding officers, “Have you seen me commit a crime? Has anybody seen me commit a crime?”
“A lot of times you don’t see the crime happen and we have to investigate it,” the officer responded.
“I’m not showing you my ID. You want to take me to jail?” Crutchfield replied.
“I’m not taking you to jail,” the officer said, before saying Crutchfield was escalating the situation.
More officers pulled up — Crutchfield counted three cop cars — while a homeowner called out the racism involved in the initial call to police, saying of the caller: “She didn’t say one word, and I was with him, and I’m white. … I’m with him and she didn’t say anything about me.”
Police left the scene shortly after the exchange.
Police say whoever called them told them Crutchfield was taking photos of the entrance to a nearby military base – which he told Fox5 DC isn’t true.
“It was embarrassing. I felt anger and frustration because I knew that I hadn’t done anything to warrant this response from Arlington County and the MPs and I felt sorry for the sellers at the house that I was at because here I am bringing four patrol cars to their house and they’re trying to list their house. This is unwarranted attention, trust me,” Crutchfield said.
The Arlington County Police Department said in a statement: “The Department recognizes community concerns when investigating calls for service involving suspicious persons, vehicles, and activity. In order to ensure public safety within our community, officers have a duty to respond to dispatched calls for service and fully investigate the circumstances surrounding them.”
The NAACP’s Arlington Branch President Julius Spain Sr. and First Vice President Kent Carter wrote in a statement Sunday: “In Arlington, we can get complacent and think this could never happen here. But it did.
“The Black man is questioned by police, who refuse to accept his word about his lawful activities, and instead demand his identification. All of this occurred while he stood on the porch of the home where he was a guest, with the homeowner supporting him and asking police to leave her property.
“This must stop. It is not a crime to be Black, it is not a crime to be on any street in Arlington, and it is certainly not a crime to be an invited guest in another’s home,” the statement said. “This incident and the initial call to police is an example of the everyday racism and bias which continues to plague our communities.”