Who says there is no such thing as racial profiling? A preppy-attired young black man hailed a New York City cab in the wee hours of Saturday morning. As the Wall Street worker attempted to step in to the vehicle, the driver asked where he was going and when the response was “Brooklyn,” the cabbie hightailed it off dragging the young man along the streets of SoHo.
Jerrell Horton (pictured) is a young, black, urban professional. He is the first member of his family to obtain a college degree and is proud of it. He works a white collar job in the financial district on Wall Street. He was dressed conservatively and lives in a nice area in Brooklyn. Horton is an accomplished 23-year-old and is baffled as to why a cab driver would size him up as a threat or menace to society just because he asked to be taken to another borough in New York City other than Manhattan.
“All they see is a black man, a potential hoodlum. It’s very disheartening,” he told the Daily News.
The DePauw University graduate was out at a club partying with friends and decided to head home at around 3 a.m. After trying to get a cab to stop for him, 45 minutes later one did, and unfortunately for Horton, it was the wrong one. When the driver asked him “where to?” and Horton replied, the cabbie sped off without ever checking to see if his passenger had stepped away from the car.
Horton’s jacket apparently got caught in the cab’s door before he had a chance to step in to the vehicle. “I was getting in when he hit the gas and my jacket got caught in the door,” he said. “I was screaming at him to stop, but he would not stop. I struggled and struggled until I finally pulled free.”
Horton was dragged for one block.
During the harrowing process, the young man lost his wallet, glasses and ruined his jeans. Thankfully, he was not seriously hurt, scraping only his knee and bruising his forehead.
Horton, who works for a financial services company, says that he did not call police because he was not seriously injured. He was also unable to get the license plate of the runaway cab.
“This is racial profiling and it’s sickening. It’s ridiculous trying to find a cab that will take you where you want to go if you’re a black man.”
A Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) admitted that they were familiar with Horton’s story but offered no comment. Under the TLC guidelines, all New York City passengers are covered by the “Taxicab Rider Bill of Rights,” which require cabs to take passengers everywhere within New York City that they request, in addition to Westchester, Nassau Counties and Newark, New Jersey airport.
When Horton was asked to describe the hack, he said, “I believe he may have been Middle Eastern.”
Just a couple of weeks ago, Daniel Shaneyfelt, 51, who is white, hailed a N.Y.C. cab, got inside and told the driver to take him to Brooklyn. There were no problems. When his black, dreadlock-sporting boyfriend, who had just completed a series of cancer treatments at Mount Sinai hospital, joined him moments later, the driver then refused to take them.
Shaneyfelt accused the driver of racial profiling and won a $2,000 settlement against him. Meanwhile the cab driver, Mohamed Ebrahim, also Middle Eastern, denied ever picking up the passengers yet agreed to pay the settlement because he “didn’t want too much trouble.”
Trying to catch a cab while black in New York City has been an ongoing problem for quite some time, and I have firsthand experience. Have you experienced taxi cab racism?