Princeton professor who said ‘blackness’ played part in her arrest pays $428 in tickets
Imani Perry — the Princeton professor who'd the “fact of my blackness is not incidental to" her warrant arrest over unpaid parking tickets — has paid $428 to resolve the traffic tickets brought her national attention.
According to the Princeton Municipal Court, Perry paid $239 for an amended speeding ticket — knocked down to 9 miles over the speed limit from an initial citation saying she was 19 miles over. She paid $189 for an amended citation originally issued for driving with a suspended license.
Perry's license has since been reinstated, according to the court. An employee there said she did have information directly available on the status of Perry's parking tickets, but said they "must have been paid," because of the reinstatement.
The payments effectively close out Perry's case, which caught widespread attention in early February, when she took to social media to talk about being handcuffed to table, and being denied an opportunity to make a phone call about her arrest before being taken into custody.
In a account of the arrest she posted to Facebook, said the “fact of my blackness is not incidental to this matter.” She argued black people are denied the benefit of police discretion broadly, as well as in cases like hers. Princeton police maintained the officers involved were just following standard procedure — arresting her because they were required to by the warrants.
A dashboard camera video released by police last month shows an officer informing Perry her Pennsylvania driver’s license was suspended. The Hughes-Rogers professor of African American Studies tells the officer in the video she did not change the address on her license when she moved from Philadelphia.
As the officer checks on the suspended license, he discovers an arrest warrant issued over two unpaid parking tickets in Princeton. The officer tells her in the video she should not be driving, and he would take her to the campus.
After Perry gets out of the car, the officer says that when someone is arrested on a warrant, procedure requires that person be handcuffed. The officer tells her that she can make “as many phone calls as you want” at police headquarters. A patdown of Perry was done off camera.
The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, after reviewing the incident the office planned to close the case unless Perry came forward with more evidence. First Assistant Mercer County Prosecutor Doris Galuchie said the officers involved should be “commended, not criticized" for their handling of the case.
Perry later said in further social media posts that she never accused the officers involved of acting based on her race — but said she was "terrified" because the arrest came against a national backdrop that's involved sometimes deadly violence between police officers and minorities.
She also argued municipalities shouldn't "generate revenue by using the police power to arrest."
"Taxes and fines should not be executed through physical coercion," she wrote. "As the justice department challenges Ferguson, Missouri to cease such practices — ones that create modern day debtors prisons in poor communities — it is worthwhile to raise questions about the practice generally, including in affluent suburbs."
The matter had become a frequent matter of conversation for New Jersey 101.5 hosts, who each pick their own on-air topics and whose opinions do not necessarily represent the station overall.
Afternoon cohost Jeff Deminski wrote that Perry's statements about her "blackless" were a "hysterical thing to say because Imani Perry is the only person who seems to have been thinking about the color of her skin during this incident." Morning host Bill Spadea honored the officers involved for his weekly #BlueFriday celebration, calling attention to officers who do exceptional work.
Nearly all New Jersey 101.5 audience members who answered a Twitter poll issued in conjunction with Spadea's #BlueFriday celebration said Perry should apologize to the officers:
But Perry did see some support. In a letter to the Princeton community, school President Christopher L. Eisgruber wrote last week he shares the concerns of people shocked by the arrest over unpaid tickets: “We welcome an investigation not only of the treatment of Professor Perry, but of the underlying policies, practices, and protocols that were applied.”
The Trentonian’s Jeff Edelstein, a frequent guest host for New Jersey 101.5, took another stance in a column this week. While he acknowledged Perry’s allegations statements about race, he said he’d rather not engage them — but instead, the mere fact that unpaid parking tickets could lead to an arrest.
“Bottom line is this: There is no reasonable explanation as to why an unpaid parking ticket should lead to an arrest,” he wrote. “We’re talking an infraction that cost the township a quarter, an unpaid fine of $40 the township didn’t collect and now … what? How much money was spent on the arrest? How much will be spent in court costs? Assorted other legal nonsense?”
He said he acknowledged Perry was “not an innocent victim,” having ignored her parking tickets, driven without a license, and sped.
“How about instead of handcuffs and arrests we make it so you can’t get a new registration card until you pay your parking ticket? Or you get points on your licence if you don’t pay? Or almost virtually anything except what happened to Perry?”