Two Anchorage police officers violated department policy during a traffic stop where a female motorist showed them a “White privilege card” when they asked for her driver’s license, an investigation into the July 7 traffic stop determined.
But the police department did not disclose if any disciplinary action had been taken against the officers following the investigation, Anchorage Daily News reported. Officials also said the outcome of the investigation hasn’t brought about any changes to the department’s policies.
The police department was made aware of the traffic stop some two days after Mimi Israelah shared details about it on Facebook. The female motorist was attending a Trump rally in the city at the time of the incident.
The post, which has since been deleted, showed Anchorage police officer Nicholas Bowe posing for a selfie with Israelah while she showed her “white privilege card.” The female motorist said she gave the officer the card because she couldn’t find her driver’s license. That was after Bowe asked her for it.
“When I saw my White Privilege card, I gave to him if it’s ok,” she wrote. “He laughed and called his partner. It’s their first time to see a White Privileged [sic] card,” she added.
“I’m already having so much fun here in Alaska.” Israelah reportedly bought the card on an online novelty platform.
The conduct of the officers was widely condemned after the post was circulated on social media. “We recognize that the post, what was contained in that post, caused a bit of a public uproar, and there were a lot of people that saw that and did not like that post and had negative reactions to that — thought it was an inappropriate post — and we recognize that,” Deputy Chief Sean Case said.
Israelah was pulled over by officers Bowe and Charles Worland after they noticed her car was “weaving in the lane,” police spokeswoman Sunny Guerin said, per NBC News. Israelah said she was headed to a pizzeria when the officers stopped her.
Israelah is also said to have filmed the stop. In the video, the female motorist is heard asking the officer, “You like my white privilege card?” The officer responds saying, “That’s hilarious.”
The officers let Israelah go without issuing her a citation after they determined she didn’t show any signs of impairment, Anchorage Daily News reported.
“While this is not a citable offense, it is one of many indicators an officer uses as a possible sign of driving under the influence,” Guerin stated in an email.
The Anchorage municipal code states that all motorists must be in possession of their license any time they’re driving. Guerin also said officers can run a motorist’s ID in the computer to ascertain if the person has a genuine driver’s license.
The Anchorage Police Department initiated an investigation into the incident after Israelah shared her encounter on Facebook. The outcome of the investigation was released after 11 days, and the two officers were placed on administrative leave during that period.
And though officials also said it is up to an officer to decide whether or not to issue a citation in such an incident, the president of the Alaska Black Caucus, Celeste Hodge Growden, said she still ponders if Israelah was left off the hook because of the card.
“Is it because the white privilege card was effective?” she asked.
Hodge Growden, who is an Anchorage resident, also said she was offended by the Facebook post.
“As a Black person, I was truly offended,” she said. “And maybe some can’t understand that because they’re not a person of color, they’re not Black, but that was deeply offensive to members within our community and to some that are racially profiled by law enforcement. … I can’t understand why the officers found that humorous.”
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