‘X-Man’ claims racial profiling

Published 11:02 pm Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Suffolk man is very publicly accusing the city’s police department of racial profiling after his SUV was searched during an incident on Hunter Street last week.

The rapper and owner of GMAAT Records, Terry Towns, videotaped six minutes of the search, which he described as harassment, and posted it on his Facebook page.

In the video, a Suffolk police officer can be seen searching Towns’ Mercedes SUV while at least two other officers stand between Towns, who shot the video, and his vehicle.

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As he videotapes the incident, Towns — whose rap name is X-man X-Con — repeatedly tells the officers that he is a business owner and is “too legit to quit.” He also questions the officers’ motives and asks why they are going through his personal papers.

“This was clearly racial profiling and harassment,” Towns said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I can’t understand why, but it shouldn’t have happened.”

According to city spokeswoman Debbie George, the incident began when officers drove down Hunter Street and noticed a group of men between two parked vehicles.

She said one of the men ran upon seeing the officers — a claim that Towns denies — and that officers circled the block to look for the man and then returned.

George said the officers engaged the remaining men in conversation and “noted the strong smell of what [the officer] believed to be recently smoked marijuana.”

George said Towns opened his coat and volunteered to be searched when officers requested his identification. He was searched, and no contraband was found.

Then, George said, “the vehicle was searched based on the smell of marijuana and case law which allows an officer to search a vehicle without obtaining a search warrant when probable cause exists.”

The officers found no contraband and left after the search.

Towns tells the story differently.

“All of that is cover-up,” he said of the city’s story. “It’s scapegoating for why they did what they did.”

He says he was on Hunter Street as part of his work as a record-label owner to pick up a CD from an individual representing a rap group.

The men were outside as Towns loaded the CD into his vehicle’s stereo system, he said.

“I was listening to what he was having to say concerning the group,” Towns said. “We hadn’t even started playing music.”

Towns said nobody ran when the officers arrived and that the officers said they stopped because the music was too loud. After a few seconds of conversation, the officers told him they smelled marijuana.

“I told them, ‘There’s no marijuana in this truck,’” Towns said. “I’m not doing nothing illegal.”

The officers then searched his truck, Towns said. He started videotaping during the search.

“I am talking a lot of stuff, but I’m telling them the whole time that this is illegal,” he said.

In the video, the officer is seen looking through papers in the front passenger and back seats and moving a box in the rear of the SUV. When they don’t find anything, the officers are seen walking away.

Towns said he believes he and his SUV were searched “because I’m in a Mercedes and I’m black and I’m over there on Hunter Street.”

He said he is so upset about the incident, because he has tried to impress upon young people in that neighborhood that if they do right, the police won’t bother them.

“This showed them that you are still going to get done just like this,” he said.

Towns said he is planning a protest to occur on Hunter Street, but he has not picked a date yet. He also made a verbal complaint with a police lieutenant after the incident.

“Something needs to change,” he said. “Old times are over.”

To see the video, click here.