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Patriots Linebacker Elandon Roberts Target of Police Harassment

Patriots Linebacker Elandon Roberts Target of Police Harassment

HOUSTON - After an unfortunate encounter with police officials at his home in Texas, New England Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts is using his platform to speak out against what happened to him.

The story begins back in March, when Roberts was at his home in Houston, Texas. Roberts was pulled over by a Houston police officer who told Roberts he was speeding. This would have been perfectly acceptable, except the officer didn't tell Roberts what he had been pulled over for.  Instead, Roberts was stopped in the driveway of his own house and left to wait. When it was finally made clear to Roberts what his infraction was, the encounter then escalated far beyond what would be normal for a minor traffic violation.

According to records, the Houston sheriff called his department for back-up assistance at the stop because he said a "big, black man" was not listening to what the sheriff was telling him. Until now this was a case of two parties making different claims, but newly released dashboard camera footage of the incident now shows that Roberts' side of the story was correct, and Roberts was clearly complicit even in the face of the officer's misconduct. Between the unwillingness to inform Roberts of what he was stopped for and the pointedly racial nature of referring to him as a "big, black man," alleging that the sheriff harassed him and asking for an investigation into the incident is probably the least Roberts could hold against the Houston police department.

Roberts told USA Today that he wasn't interested in any sort of personal gain from the encounter, but hoped to use his platform to draw attention to the way black Americans - particularly black men - are treated by law enforcement. Roberts also hopes to educate both police and the minority communities they protect how to help deescalate such situations.

While it's unfortunate that Roberts, or any American, routinely faces such treatment, it is heartening to see him join other athletes in using his platform to call attention to injustice faced by black citizens on an everyday basis.

Image via Wikimedia / Jeffrey Beall