Last week, former NFL star Warrick Dunn was pulled over outside Atlanta, Georgia by three police officers. Dunn has been involved in a number of charitable organizations since leaving the NFL, including founding the Warrick Dunn Family Foundation to help single parents find homes for their families. The former Atlanta Falcons running back has also received numerous accolades for his off-the-field service, including the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, the Bart Starr Award, and former President Clinton’s Giant Steps Award. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution described Dunn as a “model citizen.”
So it was to Dunn’s surprise when he was stopped by police officers last Friday for having “the characteristic of people transporting drugs and guns.” Dunn, who is a 36-year-old black man, was also stopped for having tinted windows that were allegedly “too dark.” Dunn reported the incident on his Facebook account late last week:
Pulled over outside Atl because he said my window tint was too dark. During the stop he asked a lot of personal questions, said I had the characteristics of people transporting drugs & guns. So he searched my car and gave me a warning for my tint. Felt violated and I’ve had my car since ’08, nvr been pulled ovr for tint. Taken back bc I think the reasoning was bad. Ruined my day but not my spirit.
Despite the alleged rationale of illegally tinted windows, Dunn wrote that “my tint is not dark.” In addition, “it was cloudy and [the police were] 20 yards behind at an angle.”
Dunn was not charged in the stop, but ultimately received a warning from the officers.
The former NFL player’s ordeal is one that is already felt by many across the nation. Yet if conservatives had their way, profiling incidents like Dunn’s would not just become more commonplace, but would be legally justified as well. Indeed, racial and ethnic profiling is widely supported by Republicans. Last year, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) called profiling “common sense” and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) justified it on the grounds that “all terrorists are Muslims or Middle Easterners.”
But the GOP’s push to profile necessarily stems from the idea that such “common sense” is not actually racist. To Republicans like former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, racism no longer exists. To him, America is inherently “colorblind” and “not a discriminate [sic] nation” because, after all, “we elected a black president.” In fact, a recent study reveals that white Americans actually view “anti-white prejudice” as the predominant race problem of the times, as opposed to “anti-black bias.” With this as the dominant view, the racism Dunn endured is too often perceived by many Americans as belonging to an era long gone and existing only in the margins of today’s society — no matter how prevalent.
Ever gracious, Dunn told TMZ after the incident, “As the son of a hard working police officer, I understand the stress that police officers are under.” He added, “The real lesson in all this is that Twitter is a powerful tool but what happened to me is the same thing that happens to a lot of people every day.”
ESPN has more information on Dunn’s life of service in the face of ordeal. When he was 18, Dunn’s mother, a Baton Rouge police officer, was killed in a robbery. Dunn helped raise his younger siblings while going on to a successful career at Florida State and the NFL.