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Princeton professor arrested for outstanding warrant; blames racism

Princeton African American Studies professor Imani Perry was arrested this past Saturday following a stop for speeding — it was revealed she had a three-year-old outstanding parking violation.

“[A]lthough she was shaken by the incident,” The Daily Princetonian reports, ” Perry said “it has renewed her commitment to the struggle against racism and carcerality.”

“Carcerality”? Is that really a word?

The relevant section of the New Jersey Revised Statutes says that “failure to pay parking judgements include suspension of the driver’s license or the registration of the vehicle.” Perry was arrested for violation of the former.

Princeton PD’s Jonathan Bucchere explained what transpired on Saturday with the professor:

[…] Perry was stopped for speeding on Saturday around 9:30 a.m. on Mercer Street after being detected through a radar by an officer on duty. He said the police stopped Perry on the shoulder of the road for speeding, conducted necessary investigations and discovered that Perry was no longer a legal driver at the time.

“It was learned that her driving privileges had been suspended. Further investigation revealed that she had an act of warrant issued by the Princeton Municipal Court. That warrant in 2013 was issued for a violation of the Parking Adjudication Act.”

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Bucchere noted that while driving privilege suspensions are handled by the municipal court, several notifications are typically sent to the subject prior to a warrant being issued.

Bucchere noted that as a consequence of those findings, the police on duty arrested Perry.

“She was placed under arrest per our protocol and as required by the state and was brought to the police station, she posted the bail that satisfied the warrant, and was released,” Bucchere said.

Professor Perry declined comment to The Princetonian, but did make a statement yesterday on her Facebook page:

My quarrel is with how I was treated. If it is the standard protocol in an affluent suburb to disallow a member of the community to make a call before an arrest (simply to inform someone of her arrest) and if it is the protocol to have male officers to pat down the bodies of women, and if it is the norm to handcuff someone to a table for failing to pay a parking ticket, we have a serious problem with policing in the society.

Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., chair of the Department of African American Studies, “found the entire incident to be ridiculous,” wondering why the officer had patted down, and then handcuffed, Perry.

Student activist Kelly Roache said “the incident brings together issues of feminism, racial justice and the need for criminal justice reform.”

Others students began gathering stories of Princeton police racism from peers, alumni, staff and faculty members.

Student Asanni York said

[…] the University, which he noted prides itself on diversity and inclusion, needs to look at the fact that though Perry is a black woman with a distinguished background, she still experiences the troubles that face other black women at the hands of police brutality and at the hand of a police state.

He added that the Princeton PD “is already threatening” Perry, but did not note any specific threats.

A commenter to one of the articles points out that two and half years ago, a blogger claimed that Professor Perry had threatened to contact the police on him for harassment.

The reason? He had sent her an email of a blog post which was critical of her views on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case.

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