It’s been a bi-annual tradition for me and a few of my friends for the past 6+ years to attend the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference over at the Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC. Well after yesterday (Saturday July 23, 2016) that tradition and excitement will now be associated with harassment, and lack of support from the conference organizers or security staff.
The events played out like this; I got stopped by three men (Undercover cops it appears) while grabbing a drink of water in one of the rooms. They ask if my name was “Mr Browne”, I answered no then they demanded to see my ID without first identifying who they were, or why I was being stopped and questioned.
Naturally I said NO! They then proceeded to threaten me that I was going to be kicked out of the hotel, and prosecuted for trespassing, if I do not comply. I ask how is that possible, I paid to be here; but they kept demanding my ID. I ask to see their badges, but wouldn’t show it and still wouldn’t say why I was being stopped. At this point the conference security team , and the three (potential officer) were surrounding me like I am a criminal.
I finally showed my ID because I didn’t want to get kicked out, or worst; I then had to go downstairs, leave the presentation and then I was finally showed one badge (Sergeant Thomas Lent -NYPD Intelligence Division-Brooklyn Army Terminal), who then told me “I got stopped because I fit the description of a Black man with a beard, who was a person of interest”.
There is a right way and a wrong way of doing things, that was the wrong way!!! It would have been good to get some support from the conference security team, by informing them I do have the right to be there, and requesting they showed me their badges, or inform me why I was being questioned but that was not the case.
#UnnecessaryHarassment #NYPD #HavingABeardIsNotACrime