Black poet: White officer racially profiled me before arrest

A black man in the running to be Rhode Island’s poet laureate says he was racially profiled and unjustly arrested by a white Providence police officer.

Christopher Johnson wrote in an essay for Motif Magazine last week that he was stopped while walking home from a bus stop in May. A police report says the two argued before Johnson pushed the officer’s arm away and “attempted to overpower” him.

He was arrested and awaits trial on charges of simple assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Johnson’s lawyer says he committed no crimes.

Police Maj. Thomas Verdi says he can’t talk about a specific street encounter because of Johnson’s pending charges.

A spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo says her office is considering about 20 candidates for state poet.



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