A Trump-loving Californian visiting Anchorage for a MAGA rally last month showed local police a novelty “white privilege card” after she was pulled over for swerving in her lane.
But instead of citing or ticketing the woman for failing to show her driver’s license, cellphone video taken by the motorist shows officers had a laugh, took a selfie with the woman, and let her go.
“You like my white privilege card?” the woman, Mimi Israelah, asked Officer Nicholas Bowe, while holding the card that reads “White Privilege Card Trumps Everything.”
“That’s hilarious,” Bowe responds as his partner, Charles Worland, smiles next to him. Bowe asks for Israelah’s first name before the video ends.
Now, weeks after Israelah posted the video in a Facebook post detailing her “fun” encounter with police on July 7, Deputy Chief Sean Case said Worland and Bowe violated department policy and were both placed on administrative leave for 11 days.
“We recognize that the post… caused a bit of a public uproar,” Anchorage Police Department Deputy Chief Sean Case said during a Public Safety Committee meeting Wednesday, according to Anchorage Daily News.
The Anchorage Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But just four days after Israelah’s traffic stop went viral, department Police Chief Michael Kerle released a statement addressing concerns about officers following internal standards and maintaining “a positive relationship with our community.”
“I am aware that the action of one officer can impact the trust between the police force and our community,” he said. “I know we are all human. But we belong to a profession that does not tolerate, practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination. This profession requires our employees to treat everyone with respect and be culturally aware and competent.”
In her now-deleted post, Israelah, who is Filipino, said she had just landed in Anchorage from California to attend a Trump rally on July 9. She was on her way to buy pizza and said she was both starving and sleepy at the time she was pulled over.
“I told him that I back the blue and showed him my Born To Ride For 45 vest with a #backtheblue patch,” she wrote. “It was so fun.”
“He asked for my driver's license. I looked in my wallet but couldn’t find it. When I saw my White Privilege card, I [asked] him if it’s ok,” she said. “It’s their first time to see a White Privileged card.”
The novelty card was purchased from a conservative merchandise website.
While Israelah clearly had a lot of fun flashing the card during her encounter with the cops, some people who saw the post did not share in her delight.
“This photo texted to me recently is totally unacceptable,” Celeste Hodge Growden, president of the Alaska Black Caucus, wrote on Facebook. “There needs to be immediate consequences that sends a clear corrective message.”
Anchorage’s municipal code requires drivers to carry their license at all times when operating a vehicle. Even if the person doesn’t have the physical document on them, a police spokesperson told the Associated Press that officers can check for the driver’s credentials via computer. It’s not clear whether the two officers did so with Israelah.
The results of the police investigation and whether the officers involved faced further reprimand are still under wraps. The department also made it clear that the encounter will not lead to any policy changes.
While traffic stops are considered routine police action, they can turn deadly, particularly for non-white people. The Guardian reported that from January 2017 through April 2022, officers killed 589 people during traffic stops. At least 28 percent of those killed were Black.
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