Tyler Perry.com


Trayvon Martin, Felipe Santos, Terrance Williams - What's Going On In Florida!!!

A few days before President Obama was supposed to speak at my studio, I was leaving the studio, headed to the airport.  Most times when I leave the studio I have an unmarked escort. Other times I constantly check in my rearview mirror to be sure that I'm not being followed. It’s a safety precaution that my security team taught me. As I got to an intersection, I made a left turn from the right lane and was pulled over by two police officers. I pulled the car over and put it in park. Then, I let the window down and sat in the car waiting for the officer. The officer came up to the driver’s door and said that I made an illegal turn. I said, "I signaled to get into the turning lane, then made the turn because I have to be sure I’m not being followed." He said, “why do you think someone would be following you?”

Before I could answer him, I heard a hard banging coming from the passenger window. I had never been in this position before so I asked the officer who was at my window what was going on and why is someone banging on the window like that. He said, “let your window down, let your window down. Your windows are tinted.” As I let down the passenger window, there was another officer standing on the passenger side of the car. He said, “what is wrong with you?” The other officer said to him, “he thinks he’s being followed.” Then, the second officer said, “why do you think someone is following you? What is wrong with you?”

Before I could answer the officer on the passenger side, the one on the driver's side had reached into the car and started pulling on the switch that turns the car on and off, saying, “put your foot on the brake, put your foot on the brake!” I was so confused as to what he was doing, or what he thought he was doing. It looked like he was trying to pull the switch out of the dashboard. I finally realized that he thought that switch was the key, so I told him that it wasn’t the key he was grabbing. I reached down into the cup holder to get the key, not realizing that the key had a black leather strap on it. As I grabbed it they both tensed up and I dropped it as I heard my mother’s voice from when I was a little boy.

My mother would always say to me, “if you get stopped by the police, especially if they are white policemen, you say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’, and if they want to take you in, you go with them. Don’t resist, you hear me?  Don’t make any quick moves, don’t run, you just go.”  My mother was born in 1945 into a segregated hotbed town in rural Louisiana. She had known of many colored men at the time who were lynched and never heard from again. Since I was her only son for ten years, growing up she was so worried about me. It wasn’t until after I heard her voice that I realized that both of these officers were white.

The officer on the driver's side continued to badger me, “why do you think someone is following you?” I then said, “I think you guys need to just write the ticket and do whatever you need to do.”  It was so hostile. I was so confused. It was happening so fast that I could easily see how this situation could get out of hand very quickly. I didn’t feel safe at all. But one officer stopped his questioning and said, “we may not let you go. You think you’re being followed, what’s wrong with you?”  At this point, I told him that I wanted to get out of the car.  I wanted the passersby to see what was happening.

As I stepped out of the car another officer pulled up in front of my car. This officer was a black guy. He took one look at me and had that “Oh No” look on his face.  He immediately took both officers to the back of my car and spoke to them in a hushed tone. After that, one of the officers stayed near his car while one came back, very apologetic.

I said all of that to say this: do you see how quickly this could have turned for the worse?

Now I know that there are many great officers, patrolmen and security guys out there. I am aware of that. But although we have made significant strides with racial profiling in this country, the world needs to know that we are still being racially profiled, and until this situation has improved greatly, I’m not sure how a murder in Florida can be protected by a “stand your ground law.”

And in another case that I have been screaming at the top of my lungs about, also in Florida, is the case of Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos, a young black man and a young Mexican man. Eight years ago, in Naples, FL, they were both put in the back of Deputy Steve Calkins' police car and never heard from again.

They were never arrested, never brought to jail. They were put into the back of Deputy Calkins' car and never heard from again. And to this day Deputy Steve Calkins is a free man.

I guess it's time to march in Naples now.


That way local government can’t make the decision on whether or not these people get punished.

Comments (page 7)

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  • Pat Anthony Charlotte, NC

    So many things like this have happened to so many people. How do we decide what is fair? While driving on a windy road that looked like a cow path, we (my passenger and I) were stopped for 'drifting' and not driving fast enough. We were lost and the only car on the road except for the man who chose to stop us. It was amusing after the fact to visualize the office leaning on the back of the Durango I was driving, perhaps trying to see if we were armed. He was quite upset. The person with me was on her cell phone trying to get directions and this may have irritated him. It took a few minutes for him to calm down enough to realize we were just what I said: Lost and calling for directions. I wanted to yell at him that his mother would be annoyed at how he overreacted.

  • Renee H. Wilmington, NC

    As the white mother of a bi-racial daughter, I am very well aware that sometimes when we are in public, people are staring at us. Recently we were out with a friend of mine and noticed a lot of this going on and she asked me if it ever bothered me. I told her it really didn't. In fact, it somewhat amused me. I mean, it's 2012 - nearly a half a century after the Civil Rights movement and some of these folks really just needed to get with the program. Besides, just look at my child. She's beautiful and in a few years, these morons are really going to be fit to be tied when their sons and grandsons are falling all over themselves trying to ask her out on a date. So I've never really faced any overt racism other than those kinds of stares and disapproving looks. Until last night: I was attempting to back out of a parking space while several clean cut young men with closely cropped hair were milling about in the space next to me, car doors and trunk open as if the sedan were somehow preparing to take flight. I cracked my passenger window and asked the closest one if I was good (What I really meant by that was: "How about closing your freaking car door, idiot.") He smiled and said "Yeah, you're good." Then he proceeded to look down into my passenger seat at the exposed wooden handle of my golf umbrella. "Is that your n***** knocker?" Surely I did not hear this cherub-faced Marine correctly. "Excuse me?" He motioned to the wooden handle - "What is that?" I pulled it out from under the hoodie that was partially covering it. "It's my umbrella." "Where I come from, we call those n***** knockers." [Yep, I had in fact heard him clearly the first time.] "Well, where I come from, we don't use the "N" word." He stammered out an apology as I reversed out of the space. For a brief moment, I kind of wished that my daughter was in the back seat with me just so I could have registered the look on that guy's face when I rolled the back window down and asked him to explain that term to my 8 year old child.

  • Deborah Johnson Biloxi,Ms.

    Hello, Mr. Tyler Perry How you? I thank you for hourly time of concern for one's opinion and for emailing and posting yours. There are two ways to understand the ways and hearts and ways of humans. Are they a friend or of the devil? Those who are of the devil does ignorant things out of hate that only Jesus can fix because, Jesus is already there before they arrive and things happen. One can only come encounter with the undefeated(you), responding as the devil does, allowing the God in you to understand, and alway remember.

    • Deborah Johnson Biloxi,Ms. #1667248

      ....And always, All that's not of the Lord is of the Devil and, we are always dealing with people's thinking. "All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart." Proverb 21:2 (K.J.V.) -Thank you

    • Pat Anthony Charlotte, NC #1667348

      So true.

  • Kathleen Indianapolis IN

    Dear Mr. Perry, I was 115 lb white woman with my mother when we stopped at the White Castle for a snack. Unlike you, I did not break any laws, I simply looked suspicious because I could not decide whether to go inside or go to the drive thru. After I ordered our food at the drive thru, we were completely surrounded by undercover agents. The white female Federal Narcotics agent had a gun within an inch of my face and another white cop had my mother sprawled across the car. I could not move. Further my answers were not what the officer was looking for making her more mad. This ordeal lasted long enough to destroy an entire drug raid – wrong place, wrong time. Thank goodness, another cop walked up and realized they had made a mistake. The female officer simply said “you can go now”. Trust me, I made phone calls. It turns out a police officer has the right to check out a situation they deem necessary. I could have been killed and was not far from it. You made an illegal turn. You had tinted windows. Why turn this in to racial profiling? Kathy

    • Kimberly Charlotte, NC #1667290

      Obviously you, CNN, and Yahoo! News CANNOT READ!!!!! He did not say that when he was stopped, it was racial profiling. However, his interaction with WHITE police officers WAS hostile, he believes, because of his race. AMERICA....one of the most civilized nations in the world where most citizens only read and understand on a sixth grade public education level!!!! We have to do better, y'all.

  • Pat Michigan

    Tyler, thank you for sharing your story. I'm very sorry and sad that you, and all the other brothers in this country have to go through such an experience. What I hope people will not forget as the press gets hold of this story is, the treatment you were subject to for a "traffic" stop is wrong. Don't let them forget. We know it is about race. Just like with Travon, people forget to ask themselves, why was Zimmerman chasing him in the first place? What crime did Travon commit? Zimmerman is not a police officer, Travon had no responsibility to stop for him, and absolutely every right to protect himself. He was doing nothing wrong but walking black. I can only imagine the fear you must have felt in that moment for driving black. God Bless You.

  • Kathy McArthur atlanta

    Tyler, you are such a gifted man. I pray your fans can find ways to bring all people together in positive ways. Lets all focus on ways to interact,respect and connect with all people positively and kindly.

  • Steve White Asheville, NC

    Amen Tyler. I'm glad this ended as well as it did. Growing up in the South, I've seen allot change for the better, but the kind of change we need takes generations. I hope you use your art and craft to push the change along, and in fact, I believe you already are.

  • Bethany Bartlett Winter Garden, FLORIDA 34787


  • Megan Tn

    Oh Boy!!!! Sorry you had to go through that nonsense Tyler. Please know that this does not speak for the majority of white folk. After all we elected a black President. That should speak volumes. I think r****** are few and far between these days. If anything I have seen some of the black community with huge chips on their shoulders toward white people. But it does sound like something is brewing in FL.

  • Peggy Cobb County, GA

    I grew up in Atlanta in the 40's, 50's and 60's. I saw it all. If I was black, I would be on my knees every day, thanking God for sending us Martin Luther King. HOWEVER, my grandson, who is white, gets pulled over on a regular basis, either because he has on a hoodie and/or because his windows are dark. I am not in agreement that this is a racial thing. I do think some policemen are bullys because they think they are hot stuff with a badge and a gun. I also believe that I would not want their job. If I had done what you did, as far as turning left from the right lane, I am pretty sure I would have been stopped, and I would have gotten a ticket. I love you and Madea, Tyler Perry, and I hope you will try to see where I, as person of color (white) am coming from.

  • Nelida Dominguez Houston TX

    Mr. Perry, God bless you for bringing this up. I'm Mexican and feel so bad for this families that never found their relatives. THANK YOU

  • ken davis Durham, nc

    I can't believe that this is the first time I've ever heard about this! Calkins and his wife should not be allowed to sleep until this situation is resolved in some suitable fashion (is there such a thing?); in the same sense that Mr. Williams' and Mr. Santo's families can't sleep. It is obvious to me that this police officer is lying about his knowledge of the suspicious events surrounding their disappearances and people of color should be just as outraged by this as they are with Treyvon Martin's case. There should be enough interest in the affected communities (Black, Brown AND White) that some highly-visible, organized, peaceful protest of both the Police Department and Calkins' home should take place EVERYDAY. Calkins killed those young men, and this country is sure to see more of these unfortunate events if we do not engage in the crucial conversations of race, power and privilege in America.

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