Reading list disappearing as police protest program
February 18, 2002
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Library visitors wanting to read up on their rights if they are arrested might have trouble finding the books at the library -- police officers have checked dozens of them out.
Unhappy with an upcoming lecture and promotional display on the subject, several officers have checked out books they say encourage the belief that arrests are often racially motivated.
One of the books, Driving While Black, deals with racial profiling. Another details legal strategies to beat a traffic ticket.
"There's been a police officer in here every day taking everything off the display and checking them out," Donald Napoli, director of the St. Joseph County Public Library, told the South Bend Tribune for a story published Friday. "This borders on a form of censorship."
The sudden interest led Napoli to put a two-book limit on books in the display.
Before that took effect, Cpl. Ron Glon checked out five books from the display, including Driving While Black.
"When I set up the radar, it doesn't go off when a driver is black, and we don't let a white driver go," said Glon, a traffic officer.
But Glon said there was no organized effort by officers.
Napoli said the intent of this week's presentation by a local attorney was not to be confrontational, but to educate people about their rights. He also said the presentation was not directed toward South Bend police but seemed timely because of questions about racial profiling across the country.
"The presentation is about how the law works (and) how to work within the law and protect your rights," he said.
Police officers said the event would be more balanced if they had been invited to take part.
Several city police officers are likely to attend this week's program. A sign-up sheet posted near the officers' entrance at the police station Thursday had eight already committed to attending.