Jonesboro Minister Accuses JPD of Racial Profiling

JANUARY 17, 2006 - Posted at 3:52 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR - An African-American Jonesboro minister Tuesday morning accused members of the Jonesboro Police Department of participating in racial profiling.

Reverend Adrian Rodgers of the Fullness of Joy Church, on Race Street, said a member of his church was the vicim of racial profiling Monday, while the city celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King's holiday.  "We respect the law," said Rodgers.  "We believe in the law.  But this young man should not have been accosted on yesterday and then again, when he was released...there was no apology and there was no explanation."  Rodgers made his comments at a late-morning news conference at his church while surrounded by other local African-American ministers.

Jason King, 20, says his rights were violated Monday as he was headed to work.  "I was grabbed by a police officer because I fit the black male questions asked," said King, who came forward this morning with the allegations.  "I was thrown on to the trunk of a police car, searched and stripped of my personal belongings."

King said he had just crossed over Nettleton Avenue and was walking on Stone Street when a JPD officer identified as Johnson stopped him, and without asking any questions, placed him inside a police cruiser and took him to a parking lot where there was another police car with another black male in the back seat.  Approximately 20 minutes later, he was released.

"Then again, when he was released there was no apology.  There was no explanation," said Rodgers.  "All that was stated, and he heard it coming over the radio, was that they were looking for a black male."

Rodgers apparently made a reference to racial profiling yesterday in his remarks at the city's MLK ceremony at St. Bernard's Auditorium, and he said what happened to King was a perfect example of what he was talking about.  "To be walking and all of a sudden to be surrounded by five police cars and he even shared with me in the end that they did catch one of the guys, and one of the officers made the comment, that 'I had to chase him...and I should have just shot him instead of chasing him.'"

Look for Heather Flanigan's story on the JPD's reaction to these allegations.