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 9)

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  • Melinda Smith Marietta, GA

    Mr. Perry, I am so sorry you had to go through. I work in law enforcement; 9 times out of 10 for the very same agency in which you encountered. On behalf of that agency, I do apologize. The sad thing is it happens everyday. It happen to a friend of mine. He took it to court but, lost of course. I would love to head up some sort group that fights for racial profiling. It has gone too far when some has to lose their life. In regards to Travon Martin. The dispatcher told him to stop following him. I am a dispatcher and I feel like this is a cut and dry case. Anyway good luck to you in the future.

  • Francisco Trujillo Miami

    Mr. Perry: I appreciate that you call attention to the case of my fellow Mexican, Felipe Santos, who died after an encounter with a white cop, like Terrance Williams. Both Santos and Williams deserve to have their cases investigated in detail to determine which was indeed his fate. Mr. Perry your action could be the first step ... thanks

  • Fourjoys

    I am a big fan of yours Mr. Perry. Clearly I do not know you but you come across like a good man. Have you ever given any thought to the idea that just maybe part of the problems with racial tensions in this country is because race seems to be tossed out as a first line of defense by so many races. You assume these officers reacted this way because you are black. It comes across very self imprortant. I am not a cop but if I were, I would imagine that if I pulled someone over for making an ILLEGAL turn like you did and they told me they thought they were being followed, I would think they needed psychiatric help no matter what color they are. That isn't something normal people do. Perhaps your real anger lies in the fact that they didn't recognize you. I am slightly disappointed that you feel you can break traffic laws because you are rich and famous. I can imagine you have very real security concerns. Perhaps if the only way you feel safe is to break laws, you need to have a security guard drive you properly. You know, I was a passenger in a car a few years back that got pulled over. I had my hands down near my lap (it was dark outside) because I was fussing with this rubeks cube. An officer tapped on my window with his hand on his weapon and asked me to show my hands and drop what I had. Now, I should have done that to begin with but I didn't think of it. I complied with the officer but never once did it occur to me to scream race because he was a man of color and I am a white woman. These officers could be r***** pigs for all I know, but to just assume that is plain wrong. What you have done, Mr. Perry is the very definition of racial profiling. I mean, clearly these WHITE cops got agitated with you because you are a man of color and not because you had clearly broken a traffic law and then proceeded to tell them you were worried about being followed....of and let us not forget you even admit that you were confused and hesitant...yeah,..it wasn't that....had to be the color of your skin. Did you expect them to respond to you saying you worry about being followed with, " Oh, ok sir...go right ahead"?

    • Dlyjrny California #1666281

      Brook...there is validity in your statement, but you can not possibly relate to our experience. The facts might be cleared, but centuries of human abuse and social injustice bring race issues to mainstream open discurse.

    • Brook Florida #1666791

      Maybe part of the problem is that so many are still hanging on to those "centuries of human abuse" instead of letting it go and trying to focus on TODAY. Yes, injustice has been done in history. But staying focused on that doesn't bring the cause to light in a favorable manner. If more people would work together today instead of clinging to the past this world would be a better place.

  • Brook Florida

    I have to say, I'm very disappointed in you Mr. Perry. I have heard you speak, and speak intelligently and eloquently, many times over the years. I have always said that your ideas and thoughts should be heard by ALL races and this world would be a better place. But your post above and perceived immediate assumption that Zimmerman "murdered" Martin and that injustice has been done greatly saddens me. Only two people know what happened for sure that day... one is dead and the other is in fear for his life because people are assuming he shot an innocent, unarmed 17 year old kid. Trayvon is no angel. He was free to roam that neighborhood that afternoon because he was on suspension from school for marijuana. He's had previous run-ins with the law as well as in the neighborhood. The pictures the media is showing most times are from 5 years ago... more recent pics show him throwing gang signs and looking like a thug. There are police reports and video that seem to support Zimmerman's story of a struggle. Trayvon was shot in the chest (as opposed to the first reports that he was shot in the back) which means he was FACING Zimmerman, not running away. A major news network has now come forward an apologized, admitting they edited the 911 tape which caused Zimmerman to sound r***** during the call. Too many people have made this a race issue when it could have been anyone, of any race, of any age... No, I am not convinced Zimmerman didn't simply panic and prematurely pull the trigger. Yes, Trayvon may well have died unnecessarily. Or he may have been a young man who did mean to do the neighborhood watch person harm and he was killed in honest self defense. Either way, I'm going to wait and let the system do what it's been built to do and bring the facts to light before I start marching or calling for justice that may not actually be warranted. This entire event has been brought to trial in the public instead of letting the system do it's job. I hoped you would have waited for the facts and shared an intelligent message about this situation, knowing that so many follow you so closely and you may well sway people to react as irrationally and untimely as others have done. So very disappointing that you've jumped on the bandwagon as well...

    • Pat Michigan #1667002

      Brooke, the problem with your comments is exactly what the problem is. Why Trayvon was on the street does not mean he desired to die. Zimmerman decided the fate of that young man and became his judge and jury. The point is Brooke, Trayvon died and he didn't comment a crime, why is that Brooke? Can it be because he was black? Because you say he threw gang signs? Is it because he was expelled from school? Did he die because he allegedly had marijuana? Zimmerman had the gun, how was his life threaten. Please tell me why Trayvon is dead.

  • Aarian Punter new york city

    Thank you for sharing your story with the us. Your story is our story and our story is yours.

  • Richard Beaty Houston, Texas

    They must not have seen your movies about getting pulled over, eh

    • Violetta Los Angeles #1666296

      Dear Tyler: Last week my daughter and I were having dinner and two white women sitting next to us were talking about the Trayvon Martin case. The one woman was very empathetic, explaining how horrible she felt about the situation. The other was completely void of any empathy. She told the woman that she worked for the school district (of all places) and was tired of "them" always playing the race card! OMG! My daughter (20 yrs old) knows how I am and she was fighting with everything she had in her to keep me focused on her. I could feel her willing me to stay with her, don't look over there, mommie!!! LOL!! Well for her sake only, I didn't, but I really wanted to let her have it. How in the h*** do you feel justified in the loss of life due to color?! On another note: We should be the ones scared! We were the ones that were raped, lynched, murdered, had dogs let loose on us and worse. Why in the h*** are they scared of us? AMAZING!

  • Mrs. O'Neal Florida

    Regarding your message to us about Trayvon Martin an unarmed teen who was murdered by George Zimmerman, and 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, I believe God has placed this in your heart. I don't know why, but I believe I know why. However, I am not God so I won't tell you what I believe He wants you to do. It is for you to pray and seek God about what you are to do. I know you are doing this already. Thus, I say this, IF YOU LEAD US WE WILL FOLLOW. I KNOW I WILL, BUT I THINK IT'S SAFE TO SAY MANY OTHERS WILL ALSO. IF YOU WANT TO SETUP A MARCH IN NAPLES, FLORIDA, JUST LET US KNOW. YOU HAVE GREAT SUPPORT. GOD BLESS YOU.

  • Gail Sunrise

    Hi, Tyler I meant to ask what happen to the play Aunt Bam's Place that you was doing.

  • Gail Sunrise

    Hi, Tyler very powerful story sorry you had to encounter something like that but you are so right racial profile is so much alive, we have to stay prayed up and keep praying for one another,it's not what man say it's what God say.

  • WD27 Toronto, ON

    Tyler, I'm sorry that you went through a time of high stress, uncertainty, embarrassment and fear all at the hands of those who are charged with serving and protecting the public. It's in those comfy times that you think that the world is so evolved and man treats his fellow man quite well that you oft times get yanked from your own reality only to be rudely reminded of the fact that while it may be 2012, really we've not come as far as we think we have. I pray that you do not allow the officers who didn't "know" you to deter your positive outlook on what is to come. Things are better here in Canada but certainly not perfect and the struggles you experience are definitely ones to which many African Canadians, West Indians, etc. can relate. Stay strong! Continue to believe in the best in ALL people and may your faith lift you up on the days you cannot lift yourself! :-))WD

  • RachelleAquarius New York, NY

    Wow Tyler, the situation you were in really annoyed me!!! As I was reading, I was like "they did what?" If that black officer never showed up and recognized that you are Tyler Perry, your situation most definitely would have gotten intense by those white officers. Who knows what would have happened. I’m sure most cases of racial profiling and intimidating by officers, as well as abusing blacks often times do not get the attention of others unless a camera is utilized and the abuse/beatings by officers are posted on You Tube and the media like many have been recently. Tyler you definitely need to use this situation to show that racial profiling and harassment of our black people are still, to this day, occurring daily!! Please use your this situation and your voice to help make a change and to prevent another situation like this from happening because this has got to stop – NOW!!

  • Michelle Toronto, Canada

    So sorry to hear what happened to you. I work during the night and I drive my little Pontiac with doors shut tight, taking turns without signaling, speed up after each turn, ignore many stop signs if I don't see another car on the road just to make sure, like you, that I am not being followed. It is sad but true that people are profiled by what they look like everyday. Black people do it too, but we are quicker to give the other person the benefit of the doubt before voicing our concern/dislike. I hope you use your rage as fuel to get behind the Martin family and the other families in Florida in seeking justice for them. Stay Blessed and Divinely Inspired

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