Profiled in Redondo Beach..

The Main Ingredient was playing a Friday/Saturday night hit in Redondo Beach California at an upscale club called the Strand. The band consisted of Ron Thomas (g), Nate Fitzgerald (s), Michael Bailey (b) and Donna Brown (k) and myself.  We played Friday night and went back to our hotel room after the set.  The next morning, we all decided to walk next door to a diner for some breakfast. 

Ron, Nate, Michael and myself are sitting at a table talking and ordering up some breakfast when we notice two police cars pull up in the parking lot.  Nobody thought anything of it assuming they were coming in for coffee.  Three or four of them came directly to our table and said "would you all accompany us outside - and keep your hands where we can see them.."  I clearly thought they were not referencing me but yes they were! We all go up, not knowing what any of this was about and carefully walked outside where they asked us to sit down on the curb.

Each of the police took one of us, checking our IDs, writing down driver's license, addresses, and asked us what we were doing in Redondo Beach.  I even saw one of the police jotting down descriptions of us, clothing worn.. Nate was wearing a dashiki, tufi, sunglasses and had a rather large knife in his pocket.  I was thinking to myself, we are surely going to jail.  Fortunately, they did not search us.

Ron politely asked them what was all this about.  Their response was that we fit the description of suspects for a recent robbery that had taken place in Redondo Beach.  After profiling us, they left and we went back to our now cold breakfasts.  Clearly, someone was scared seeing a group of blacks (and one white guy) walking into their diner ordering some breakfast in this all white, upper class neighborhood in California.  It was one of many experiences I had working with them where I was able to see racism through a different lens. 

John ClayComment