‘Young Black man like me has to be in fear’: Residents say white cop allowed to harass them

‘Young Black man like me has to be in fear’: Residents say white cop allowed to harass them

A white South Carolina sergeant is accused of using minor traffic infractions to harass 21 Black residents, and the city’s mayor is attempting to explain away the sergeant’s actions. A woman told the Lancaster City Council on February 9 that Sgt. Pete Beck pulled over her son multiple times in a few weeks, according to Fox 46. “He said something about his light on the car, so Beck pulled him over, made my son get out the car search him, search the car,” said the woman, who wasn’t named in the news station’s article. “So I’m trying to figure out why did you search him, why did you make him get out of the car, you didn’t smell no kind of weed, no drugs or nothing so what was the reason for you doing that?”

As if it justifies alleged instances of racial profiling, Lancaster Mayor Alston DeVenny explained that the city employs a methodology that’s been utilized in the community for about 30 years. “When particularly vehicle violations occur, it allows the officer to make a vehicle stops, speeding, bad taillight all those sorts of things and it gives the opportunity to be present and see what’s going on in a neighborhood or what’s going on in a particular vehicle,” the mayor said. “It’s just a way to keep your eyes open.”

Katie Harris told the council Beck has pulled her son over four times since December without so much as a citation, according to The Lancaster News. In the first encounter with the officer, she said Beck told her son he would be cited for driving without insurance so Harris rushed to the scene to provide his insurance card. “By the time I got there, my son was already pulled out the car and it was being searched for drugs and whatever else he was looking for,” Harris said during the council meeting. “Since that first stop, every time he sees my son in his Challenger with 30-inch rims on it, he has an excuse to pull it over.”

Timothy Duncan, another resident quoted in The Lancaster News said the situation is “getting outrageous.” “It’s bad that a young Black man like me has to be in fear of police that’s supposed to be serving and protecting us,” he told the council. Police Chief Scott Grant said the complaints made during the council meeting will be evaluated on “their own merits and tested against department policy and the laws of the land,” The Lancaster News reported.

The council has looked through body camera footage available in formal complaints made to the police department, The Lancaster News reported. “Every formal complaint that has been made to the police department has been investigated, with hours of tape reviewed and interviews conducted, but it is clear that additional information is needed,” DeVenny said in a statement the newspaper obtained. “Council will continue to review each formal complaint, seek out both facts and legal advice, and then take appropriate action.”

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