TEXAS—Dorothy Mae Bland, Dean of Frank W. and Sue Mayburn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas, in Denton, Texas had been walking in a neighborhood last week before she was approached by two local authorities, according to video footage released by the local police department.
A dashcam video, released by Corinth Police Department, shows nearly three minutes of footage of interaction between and two police unnamed police officers. Soon after the conversation, Bland made harassment claims of “walking while black” and remains adamant that the incident directly correlates to her perception of events.
“Like most African-Americans, I am familiar with the phrase ‘driving while black,’ but was I really being stopped for walking on the street in my own neighborhood?” says Bland. “I guess I was simply a brown face in an affluent neighborhood. I told the police I told the police I didn’t like to walk in the rain, and one of them told me, ‘My dog doesn’t like to walk in the rain,’ Ouch!”
In response to Bland’s comment, Corinth’s Police Chief Debra Walthall said, “Walking while black is a crime in many jurisdictions. May God have mercy on our nation,” alleging that Bland had turned a “cordial” stop into a “racial issue.”
Walthall also states that: “Ms. Bland never contacted the police department to voice her concerns regarding this encounter and has not returned my phone message left at the number provided by the mayor.”
“The citizens of Corinth, is a highly educated population and it is disappointing that one of our residents would attempt to make this a racial issue when it’s clearly not.”
The video depicts the two officers and Bland interacting. The men were allegedly making routine stops to notify Bland that she was impeding traffic by walking in the middle of the street, according to the Corinth Police Department.
A petition that is being passed around the UNT campus allegedly urges for the firing of Bland. So far, 3,800 signatures have been obtained.
According to the Record-Chronicle, Bland has spoken with Walthall, stating that “she is ready to let this go.”
Bland shares her experience with Record-Chronicle. “I wrote the column to share my perception of my experience. This happened to me. It was my opinion. I respect law enforcement and respect they have a difficult job.”
Staff at UNT has since then released a statement to Canyon News regarding the occurrence, urging the community to draw their own conclusions about the video and what the Dallas Morning News had to offer about the situation.
The university issued a statement on the comments about Dorothy Bland’s recent opinion piece in the Dallas Morning News reading:
“As members of their communities, University of North Texas administrators, faculty and staff members have the same rights and obligations as other citizens.
Bland attached her title to her personal column in the Dallas Morning News. UNT seeks to make clear that in her column and in all associated matters, Bland was not acting or speaking on behalf of the university.
Bland’s interactions with the Corinth Police and her communications about her experience are her private business.
UNT encourages our administrators, faculty and staff members to measure the gravity of their rights and obligations as a private citizen in light of their responsibilities to their individual professions, the university, and our students. When administrators and faculty and staff members speak and act as private citizens they should make clear that they are not speaking or acting on behalf of the university.
…That said, among UNT’s greatest assets is the collective diversity of thought at this university, our willingness to respect and examine differing perceptions and viewpoints, and our ability to engage in constructive dialogue in a civil manner. The university encourages others to have respectful discussion of the matter and attempt to see the situation from all points of view.”
Canyon News has reached out to Bland who was unavailable for comment.
Dorothy Bland has been a professor at UNT since 2013. She has worked 25 years in media relations, has a Master of Business Administration from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Journalism from Arkansas State University.
Bland also serves as a McCormick Fellow and was awarded the Gannet Presidential rings for excellence and is featured in the book, “The Edge of Change: Women IN the 21st Century Press.”