Sheriff Blocked Black Law Student From Court, Mistook Her For Defendant

Out Of Order! White Sheriff Blocked Black Law Student From Entering Court, Confuses Her For A Criminal Client

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Even when a Black law student is heading into court to work, racists find a way to put Blackness on trial.

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Future lawyer Brooklyn Crockton gets paid to talk, but a recent racist run-in left her speechless. Revolt reports the Roger Williams University third law student was at Garrahy Judicial Complex in Rhode Island to represent a client when a White sheriff singled her out from a group of attorneys and denied her access to the courtroom.

“So something happened to me today that I feel the need to share,” Crockton said in her now viral TikTok video about the incident. “I get on here a lot and talk about law school and what it’s like, but this is the quiet part that I’m just gonna say out loud.”

A sheriff came out and allowed everyone into the courtroom except Crockton, the only Black person, and questioned if she was in the right place because he didn’t have her listed as a defendant.

“I’m like the second person in line. [And] he physically puts his body in between me and the door and is like, ‘Please step to the side,'” she said. “So once everyone else is in, he turns to me and [asks my name]. He then says ‘I don’t have you here on the docket. Are you sure you’re in the right courtroom?’

Although she was dressed like an attorney, carrying a stack of paperwork like an attorney, and waited in line to enter with a group of attorneys, this incompetent cop was certain she was facing criminal charges rather than fighting them.

“I have never been so embarrassed in my entire life. I felt like crying in that moment, and the crazy [part] about it is you hear stories like this all the time with Black attorneys, but when it happens to you it is just so visceral that you don’t even know what to say,” Crockton explained. “Like I literally have all of these binders and folders and I’m dressed pretty nice. Like why would you assume that I was a defendant? I think we all know why.”

We all know why! This is like the reverse of racists assuming every Black person they see in a store or restaurant is an employee waiting to serve them. Crockton can’t practice law on her own yet, but she knows her way around a courtroom through her work with the Roger Williams University’s criminal defense clinic.

Even after the sheriff apologized for the mistake, Crockton told WPRI that the harassment continued once she got into court. He repeatedly approached her to interrogate with more questions and condescend to her like she had no place in a courtroom if she wasn’t a defendant. The cop’s repeated attempts to put her in her place speak to an issue much larger than this one incident.

“You can’t outdress racism,” Crockton said during an interview. “It doesn’t matter how well you are dressed or what you put on. Someone will still look at the color of your skin and judge you based on that.”

The attorney-to-be hopes her story will help amplify the conversation about how implicit bias shows up in our everyday lives.

“This just fits into a larger conversation we need to be having about implicit bias,” she said. “It’s not only in the legal industry. It’s in every single industry that’s out there.”

In a follow-up video, Crockton said her supportive school is working with both the Rhode Island Judiciary and sheriff’s department to implement implicit bias training. The Rhode Island State Police are conducting an internal investigation but haven’t commented on whether the unidentified cop will face any disciplinary action.

Watch the rest of Brooklyn’s update below.


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