Racism 1966 in PasadenaBy Lora Harrington-Pride
I never believed my husband’s stories about the things policemen did to Black people because they were so outrageous. I thought he was exaggerating and blowing out of proportion isolated things that he had heard or read about, way back when, as something that happened in the deep south where there was known to be racism. Those things didn’t happen up here, in the north. Then, I experienced it.
My life had been sheltered. My mother was a teacher. My father was a parole officer while I was in high school. I knew policemen on a social level.
My husband grew up on the streets and he was a blue collar worker. I learned what he knew, at my age of 26.
My husband and his friend and I were going to our home in Pasadena after having visited a friend in Altadena. It was about 11 p.m.
We were going South on Raymond Avenue when a police car pulled us over with a quick siren blast.
Two officers approached the car. One came to the driver’s side, while the other, holding a shotgun, finger on the trigger went to the passenger side.
My husband, the driver, and his friend, each, rolled down their windows. I was sitting between them in the front seat.
The officer without the drawn gun, started questioning my husband as to where we were going and where we had come from. The other officer stood with his shotgun aimed at us through the passenger side-finger on the trigger.
I leaned forward trying to see the officer’s face. When I made that move the shotgun came up, in line with my head. I wanted to see what kind of an expression a person wore on his face as he pointed a loaded weapon at another human being – unprovoked.
After all licenses and ID’s had been checked and cleared, we were sent on our way.
When we got home, my husband exploded on me. He said, “Don’t you ever move, when a police officer is pointing a weapon at you!” I told him why I had moved, and he said I could have gotten my head blown off, and the officer would have been justified because he didn’t know whether or not I was reaching for a weapon to use on him. He felt his life was in danger
There had been no infraction of any kind, and there was no explanation or apology given for having stopped us. I, along with my husband and his friend, knew why we were stopped, and questioned at gunpoint; “we were Black,” and that was reason enough.
Lora Harrington-Pride – 9/5/23