ST. CLAIR SHORES (WWJ) – An African-American woman says she’s a victim of racial profiling in St. Clair Shores.
Rai Lanier, 27, of Grosse Pointe was arrested after police ran her license plate and found she was wanted on an outstanding ticket.
Lanier parked illegally in a handicapped space waiting for carry-out from a Buffalo Wild Wings in St. Clair Shores. That’s when police approached her — and after running her license found the warrant for her arrest.
“There was a strong odor of marijuana and the driver admitted there was marijuana in the vehicle and indeed there was,” says Police Chief Todd Woodcox. “She was arrested for warrants — for tickets that she failed to pay.”
Michigan United, a social justice group, wants to know if this is a pattern of racial profiling andhas filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act “to determine if people of color are more closely scrutinized, and subsequently arrested and fined, than white people. Amber York, a spokesperson for the multiracial, social justice organization said “In March 2015, the Department of Justice clearly established that the pattern of arrests and citations in Ferguson, Missouri was driven by revenue production–not public safety. We have good reason to believe that’s the same thing that’s happening here in St. Clair Shores, Michigan.””
Lanier tells WWJ’s Stephanie Davis that she was sitting in her car waiting for the carry-out and didn’t realize she was in a handicapped parking space.
“By the time he came back to the car — there was a second car there — there were about four officers -I was completely confused and taken aback because I didn’t think I was going to be arrested for being in a handicapped spot — he told me there had been an outstanding ticket for a handicapped spot in 2013 — I was like — is this something we can do? We can fix today? And he said ‘no’ and the situation just escalated.”
“It was like a bad dream I couldn’t wake up from.” said Lanier on the steps of the police station. “One minute I’m waiting for my food, the next minute I’m being frisked and searched in front of a bunch of men. I was too stunned to even be angry at the time.”
Lanier says she has a permit for marijuana use.