Dion Rabouin, a black journalist who was handcuffed and detained while reporting outside a bank last November, has recounted numerous instances of police mistreatment – starting at the age of four.
Rabouin, who works as a financial reporter for The Wall Street Journaltweeted on Monday about his chilling encounters with the police, detailing how he was subjected to harrowing mistreatment by law enforcement.
“The Phoenix incident wasn’t the first time I’ve been harassed and/or stopped by the police for no reason. This is the first time someone noticed it. And I’m grateful,” Rabouin wrote, referring to a November incident in which Phoenix police stopped him from reporting to the bank.
“This time the bank that called the police on me called to apologize and the mayor of the town where it happened personally sent me an email apologizing and assuring that a full investigation is underway. But I’ve been doing it all my life,” he continued.
Rabouin told of his first encounter with the police at the age of four.
“My dad used to let me sit on his lap when he was driving. I pretended to drive and it was my favorite thing in the world. The last time this happened, we were stopped by an officer.
“He told my dad he couldn’t do it. My father told the officer he didn’t know he couldn’t have his son on his lap while driving. The officer lowered his sunglasses and asked him, “Are you stupid or what?”
“No,” replied my dad. “I just didn’t know.”
“Yes, maybe you’re stupid,” said the officer. “Do not do that again”. My dad had an expression of sadness, rage and helplessness on his face that I had never seen before WSJ reporter.
He detailed another incident that occurred when he was seven years old. Rabouin called the police after his father, “who had anger issues,” punched him, then, thinking the dispatcher would help him, instead sent two officers who “grabbed me and dragged me out of the building screaming and crying, and put me in the back of the squad car.”
“Lying to the police was a crime,” they said. After talking to my dad for a while, they finally let me out of the car and said I could go,” he continued.
In another incident, Rabouin said police stopped him and his friend when he was a teenager, searched both of them twice, and unreasonably questioned them, despite the explanation offered that they were outside their own high school.
“My friend began to tremble in fear as he was searched. The officer pushed him against the car. ‘What are you hiding?’ He demanded.
“He’s just scared,” I said.
“If there’s nothing, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“He’s never dealt with the police before,” I replied.
The journalist also told about two other incidents.
Rabouin received many encouraging responses to his Twitter thread.
“Dion, you have always been the epitome of professionalism in our conversations. I’m sorry you were treated this way simply because you were doing your job,” analyst Kathy Jones wrote.
“I read this and I feel anger boiling up inside of me. At no point does there appear to be any probable cause for the vehicle(s) being searched, which is a violation of the Fourth Amendment,” another user said.
The Wall Street Journal last week called on the Phoenix Police Department to conduct an internal review and ensure that the constitutional rights of journalists are protected.
The newspaper’s editor-in-chief pressed Phoenix Police Chief Michael Sullivan in a letter after Rabouin was filmed being put into the back of a police vehicle last November.
In a December 7 letter, editor Matt Murray wrote that he was “appalled and concerned” that department officials “attempt to interfere with Mr. Rabouin’s constitutional right to engage in journalism and allegedly restrict anyone’s presence in public places.”