DURHAM, N.C. — A week after a viral video of a police officer using excessive force against a black man went viral, a growing number of black men are refusing to wear hoodies to work because they fear it could make them targets for violence.
At a recent rally outside the Durham Police Department, dozens of black people gathered to protest the arrest of Jamar Clark, who was arrested last week after allegedly trying to jump the curb and run over a woman in a parking lot.
The video, which was posted on social media last week, shows Clark repeatedly hitting the woman with a baton, as she screams.
In a statement, the Durham NAACP said the incident “shows that even though white men have been given more power, and more freedom to abuse, they still need to be held accountable for their actions and the actions of those around them.”
It also highlights the lack of systemic racial justice in the United States, the statement said.
Black men are under-represented in the workforce, in the criminal justice system and in the community at large, the NAACP said, adding that this lack of equity “has a direct impact on Black lives, families and communities.”
Black men face disproportionate levels of incarceration, the organization said, and they often face harassment and discrimination, including harassment that occurs during work hours, where they are often targeted for being in uniform and for being out of line.
“They don’t have any tools for self-defense,” said Michael Jackson, a Durham resident and organizer with the Durham Chapter of the NAACP.
“It’s a situation that can and should be handled with greater care and sensitivity.”
Durham police said Clark’s arrest was not related to the viral video, and a spokeswoman for the department said officers are trained on how to interact with individuals of color.
Clark, a 31-year-old father of four, was released on $25,000 bail on Monday.
His attorneys, however, declined to comment on his release.