by Yvette Carnell
Cobb County officials have issued an apology to an African-American driver who was told by a white officer: “I don’t care about your people.”
Middle school teacher Brian Baker, 33, was stopped on Nov. 16 at around 2am and given two tickets–one for speeding and one for failing to maintain lane–by Officer Maurice Lawson.
After receiving the tickets, Baker asks if he can leave. Dashcam video of the shows Lawson then begin to make fun of Baker by repeating the question.
Lawson then says: “Leave. Go away. Go to Fulton County. I don’t care about your people, man, go.”
Fulton Co. is Atlanta, so Lawson seems to be telling Baker to go back to his mostly black county. According to the Census, in 2014 blacks comprised only 27% of Cobb County’s population.
Baker asked Officer Lawson what he meant by the comment.
“I said Fulton County,” Lawson replies. “Do you want to step out and talk to me?”
“Why do you need me to step out of the car?” Baker asks.
“Go back to Fulton County, sir.”
After Baker drives off, Lawson seems to explain to two other officers why he has problems with blacks.
“I lose my cool, man, every time. Why do I got to deal with (stuff) like that. This is the (expletive) America we live in, ain’t it?”
Lawson didn’t have to “deal with” anything though, since Baker only asked if he could leave. A simple yes or no would’ve sufficed. As with so many police incidents we’ve seen, many ending with deadly consequences, it is the officers who escalate tensions. In this case, Lawson taunted Baker, then goaded him to step out of the car.
Furthermore, any officer who admits to losing his cool “every time” he has to deal with a black person probably shouldn’t be on the force.
Lawson has been reassigned to another unit pending an investigation.
Cobb police acknowledge that Lawson violated police policy and have reduced Baker’s tickets to warnings.
Baker told The Atlanta Journal Constitution that Lawson should be fired for his actions.
“I’m a teacher. If I say something like that to a child, there would be a firestorm and immediately I would lose my job,” Baker said during an interview. “Obviously, he’s not there to protect and serve me, or people of color.”
County Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who is also African-American, accused Officer Lawson of aggressively following her to the point that she thought he was going to ram her in the back.
Cupid said Lawson “was not there to protect and serve. He was there to harass and intimidate.”
In 2009 the ACLU documented racial profiling in Cobb County.
Watch the video of Baker’s stop below: