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

September 29, 2013  |  

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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