This week’s reminder that fame or popularity doesn't exempt a person of color from racial profiling is the arrest of former NFL player Kellen Winslow Jr., who was reported to police while house-hunting for his mother-in-law.
In addition to being a former player, Winslow is also the son of NFL Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow Sr., yet his status in the sports world did not stop a white San Diego, California, resident from suspecting him of burglary on Thursday.
In the middle of the afternoon at approximately 2:39 p.m., officers were called to the Park Encinitas Mobile Home Park. The caller indicated that she had seen a black male walking into a neighbor’s home. This so-called suspicious black male turned out to be Winslow Jr.
The resident, who is an elderly white woman, claimed in an interview with local ABC 10 News that she confronted Winslow Jr. and asked if she could help him with anything. Clearly responding sarcastically, he allegedly told her he was looking for his red dog named Clifford. His flippant answer made the woman feel uncomfortable, prompting her to ask him to leave the mobile home park.
Winslow Jr. left the home, but when officers arrived on the scene, they found him still in the area and arrested him for residential burglary.
To be sure, Winslow Jr.’s publicist Denise White of EAG Sports Management confirmed that the ex-athlete was being sarcastic with his Clifford remark when the nosy neighbor approached him.
"An over reactive neighbor called police after she saw Kellen walking around a mobile home," White said in an email to NBC News.
She also noted that Winslow Jr. never went inside the residence and indicated that the home he was looking at actually belongs to church friends of his wife.
"Mr. Winslow emphatically denies committing any burglary,” his attorney, Harvey A. Steinberg, said in a statement. “He would have no need to burglarize or steal anything from anyone at a trailer park. He looks forward to being vindicated once this matter is fully investigated and adjudicated through the court system."
The former footballer posted a $50,000 bail Friday morning and was subsequently released. However, the humiliation from the ordeal and having to explain himself to the public is likely no walk in the park for Winslow Jr.
This neighbor made an assumption based on nothing more than her preconceived notions about Winslow Jr. Furthermore, she certainly didn't need to call the police if she asked him to leave and he obliged. If there was ever any doubt that racial bias and prejudice still exist, this absurd ordeal should serve as confirmation.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Getty Images, Joel Auerbach