The tragic death of George Floyd has triggered memories and emotions (“Fresh Charges Brought in Floyd Killing,” Page One, June 4). As a pre-med student at Columbia University, I had guns pulled on me by police officers because they thought I was a chain snatcher. As a young orthopedic surgeon traveling to fellowship training in Philadelphia, I was stopped by a New Jersey state trooper. I was singled out from a number of cars all traveling 65 mph on the New Jersey Turnpike. When I questioned the trooper why I was stopped, he told me “because you are a young black male in a sports car.” That was 25 years ago. It didn’t have a name then, but it since has been called DWB (driving while black). Over the years, there were countless other episodes.
As my cars got a little nicer, maybe I got pulled over a little less. Nothing has changed, the only difference is that we now have the ubiquitous camera. But make no mistake about it, I am lucky. I could have and still to this day could be a George Floyd. My credentials won’t help me when in the claws of racism.
I have much respect for law enforcement as my dad was NYPD. It is a shame that the many good police officers are getting the blame for a few bad apples, but something has to change. It is time for all of us to have a frank dialogue about race, our bias, our fears and our experiences. I am encouraged by the diversity of response to this tragedy.
Brian A. Cole M.D., FAAOS