Dennis White and Cherie Johnson Tell Their Story of Racial Profiling in South Carolina

September 29, 2013  |  

White at the cotton field (Source: Instagram)

As many of us know, racial profiling is alive and well everywhere. But Hollywood couple Dennis White (Notorious) and Cherie Johnson (Punky Brewster and Family Matters) are using their platforms as working actors to blast a Marion, South Carolina police officer for what was a terrible experience while they were on their way to Myrtle Beach.

According to White, who wrote his story on iCNN, he and Johnson had just entered South Carolina state limits when they were pulled over by two police cars.  The officer who approached told White he was clocked doing 40 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone; although he didn’t believe that was the case, White took the citation without arguing with plans to fight it later.  Before leaving, the officer told them to be careful because there were “other officers on the prowl.”

While it shook them up, the couple continued on their road trip.

They soon reached the highway that led to Myrtle Beach when Johnson noticed a cotton field. White pulled over so Johnson could get a closer view and try to gain a connection to her ancestors who’d picked cotton as slaves. They took pictures and as they made their way back to their car, a police car turned around and headed toward them with its lights on.

Johnson approached the car and told Officer S. Barsfield that she just wanted to get pictures. He, in turn, grabbed his gun and told her to get in the car.

Officer Barsfield then approached their car and asked for White’s license and registration. Although everything came back clean, he asked White to step out of the car where he was then placed in the back of the police car.  He proceeded to ask White about Johnson and then presumably went over to Johnson to confirm White’s responses. Officer Barsfield then told them Johnson had a warrant out for her arrest but couldn’t provide a reason for it.  After a few minutes, however, Barsfield admitted he didn’t have a warrant but then asked if he could search their car. White realized that because there was no warrant, he did not have to allow him to search it and told the officer no.

Moments later, both White and Johnson were handcuffed by Barsfield even though he told them they weren’t being arrested.  After being asked if they had marijuana in their possession and being threatened with being arrested on charges of trespassing and petty larceny, White decided to let Barsfield search their car. He found a tea bag but asked White if it was marijuana, essentially just trying to to make the tense situation worse.

After the search yielded no results, Officer Barsfield uncuffed the couple and let them go. If you can’t already tell, he offered no apology or anything else.

What an unfortunate yet all too common situation they had to endure.  Dennis White and Cherie Johnson are vowing to not let this injustice “go” and want to see Officer Barsfield held accountable for his actions and receive some sort of punishment.

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  • Jesus loves you

    To everybody who thinks it’s just black people that get profiled there wronge I was profiled pulled over out the car hands spread out children screaming in back seat wife in front set k9 dog walking around vehicle everybody I know riding by on the main road in my home town some cops are on a power trip just look on YouTube

  • JRoc85

    SMDH!!!! Cherie & Dennis have the right to have fun & travel WHEREVER THEY WANT WITHOUT BEING HARASSED!!!!! Much love to Cherie & Dennis.

  • Chas

    Not shocking unfortunately. I just moved from California to SC and its been different to say the least.

  • Guest

    Ole’ south carolina, a town full of weirdoes , illiterates and bigots

  • Beautynsoul

    I was in South Carolina for a short period of time and I saw some stuff!, and truthfully there are black men exploiting young girls and trafficking them there, its sad! But I guess that can be anywhere.I just got to see how, men treat young girls who do not know any better.

    • Julie Cochrane

      A pimp can’t traffic a young girl without johns willing to pay. Guess it’s not child molestation if you do it to a runaway. 🙁

  • Thank you for speaking up! This type of stuff seems to happening increasingly more frequently with cops taking things too far. Be diligent and seek the justice you deserve. Sorry this had to happen to such sweet people.

  • Tonyoardee

    Happens in VA Beach too, do they have a rep out of VA too?

  • MM82

    I’ve lived in the South all my life and there are just certain places that you stay away from if your a minority .

  • sweetpea730


  • me

    Shoulda just told the officer his name was George Zimmerman…woulda got a pat on the back and a have a good day.

  • ScubaSue

    Bottom Line: There are a lot of whites out there who are upset, annoyed and angry there’s a Black President/Black man in power, and they’re “retaliating” as though it’s the 1950’s-yet we blacks are being called racists.
    Let’s keep Our Eyes On The Prize.

    • Julie Cochrane

      That may be so, but in this particular case I don’t want to let Officer Barsfield off the hook for his bad behavior by lumping it in with anyone else’s bad behavior. He should get several days suspension–that’s actually a serious punishment, because it goes in his personnel file and is a permanent blemish on his whole future career in law enforcement. (That’s what he should get if this is a first offense.) Unfortunately, a disciplinary sanction can’t change someone’s heart.

  • Duhhhhh

    Why is it racial profiling, they cops said they were, speeding(which I admit is questionable). And technically they were trespassing on private property when they went to the farm. Yes I’m a black women and feel bad they had this experience, but it seems like if they didnt trespass on someones property this would not have happened

    • Duhhhhh

      And before yall jump down my throat about how “they were just taking pictures” the pic MN put up w/ the article makes it to believe that that is one of the innocent pictures they took at the farm. He clearly has cotton in his hand, which proves they did more than just look…trespassing.

      • ScubaSue

        Not jumping down your throat – but all they did was to pull over. He didn’t walk/run/drive through the fields; and so what if he had a piece of cotton in his hand? Wasn’t necessary for the “officer” to put his hand on his gun!
        What was he going to do-arrest him for “Theft of Cotton?!” SMH

      • Julie Cochrane

        It’s not trespassing unless the land is Posted or you’ve been told to leave and don’t. If the mechanical harvester has already been over the field, the rest of the cotton there is just going to go to waste. I don’t know if this field had been harvested (mechanical harvesters miss a lot), but it’s almost certain the farmer wouldn’t care about some tourist picking one or two bolls.

        Even if the couple did technically do something the land owner could have complained about, unless the owner complains, there’s no offense under the law. If the farmer even knows it was his own land the incident happened at, he’s probably just embarrassed to be associated with the racist cop.

    • carmatogo

      The charge of ‘trespassing’ does not condone that officer’s behavior towards Johnson and White. If that was the case, they should be cited for trespassing and then let it be done with. NO! That officer was attempting to humiliate them and take out his racist pent up aggression on the unsuspecting black couple. If it was a white couple, do you think he would have handcuffed them, drawn his gun, and searched their car for weed? This is the world we live in. Ok, so he has a pic with cotton in his hands, that does not condone the way they were treated.

  • marissa

    And..people laugh at me when I say I don’t stop in SC when driving the coast…Gas up before the state line….sad but warranted

  • Val

    The only thing really shocking about this is that we heard about it. This stuff goes on all over the country, hundreds if not thousands of times a day. There needs to be national police reform.

  • Felisha Crooks-Sweet

    Bullcrap like this pisses me off. Its never gonna stop until our president takes his nose out of Syria and put a handle on whats going on here in this country. I will be on death row if a racist pig take out one of my black sons because he feels like it.

    • Guest360

      When are we going to stop relying on the President to fix everything wrong in black america and start fixing these problems ourselves? Part of the problem is that we pass the buck off to Al Sharpton, cable news outlets and the President himself as if one person is enough to solve problems that have been 300 years in the making. So no. I disagree about where the President’s focus should be. Unless WE start doing something, the President’s help is less than futile. He’s the President. Not Jesus.

      • Sheena B


      • Pam

        Thank you! Obama is the president not god and if we want to improve our communities, then we have to do it ourselves, not depend on the POTUS to make it better.

    • Fair and Balanced

      I agree with you but our President is not about to lift a finger to help Black America do anything but stay jobless and broke. This type of crap has to stop and the only ones who can do it is us we have to keep raising our voices and writing about it until the right people take notice which is still us as far as President Obama is concerned we are nothing more than casualties just look at his cabinet that should tell you all you need to know.

    • Kaho’olawe

      You are right. It is never going to stop, because White people would have to stop being racist. President Obama has nothing to do with this.

  • Ywanda Williams

    Thats good old SOUTH CAROLINA for you!!Its ridiculous!!Don’t let this matter go….fight it please!!!

  • hollyw

    I just read this yesterday and shared off of CNN. In the original story, White asked everyone to share and gave the name of the officer so that justice could be done. No more “Yeah that’s what you get in [fill in whatever state]”, this ish has to end, and these officials need consequences.

  • Pam

    I know the South can be racist as hell, even blacks get arrested for DWB (driving while black) these days. Suxx that happened to them.

  • Age

    What does “suspicious” look like? Until that can be defined every stop and search is unjust and unlawful. Police are supposed to intervene if they believe a crime has been commited. Not “may”. Not “suspicion” if we all were aware of the law, and fought more vigilantly- these occurances would be higlighted. Not shooed away until something terrifying happens (which is way too common)

    • Fair and Balanced

      What does suspicious look like easy answer being Black around racist cops which believe it or not can happen anywhere. I was pulled over one night a block away from home my crime I was driving a high end car and I just happen to be Black. I know the law I have a MS in Criminal Justice and believe me they left me alone in a hurry although I was frightened because there is an unwritten rule when it comes to being Black and running into police officers who have a chip on their shoulders or want to prove they are hard the fact is whether they are Black or Caucasian you can be Dead right but you will still be DEAD and they will make it look as if you were the guilty party. Here in Ohio they are famous for it.

  • WhiteDevil

    This boy looks suspicious. I would have stop him too.
    Here in SC we have a large number of blacks male trafficking underage girls.

    • Black Angel

      Please do us all a favor, and go kill yourself… and I mean that in the most literal sense. Go (back) to hell.

    • Pam

      Then I will have to alert all black men I know not to go to SC because people there think that black men are pedophiles. Please STFU and do f**k yourself!

    • ScubaSue

      Yeah, I suppose there are no white males trafficking underage girls in SC. SMH

    • IllyPhilly

      Y’all just traffic and eat people.

      • Ms_Mara


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