By Frances Weller | June 3, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT – Updated June 3 at 7:14 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Four days before George Floyd died, a former UNCW associate athletic director was stopped at gunpoint by police. Tim Duncan, who is now the athletic director at the University of New Orleans, was in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb outside of Boston, packing up his house to move to his new home in New Orleans. He and his wife were walking to the grocery store when six police officers in four cars pulled up and pointed guns at Duncan.
They were looking for a murder suspect.
“I said ‘Is he a 6’8” black man like me’ and they said ‘well they said he was tall’ and that’s it,” Duncan says.
Duncan says he immediately recalled the lesson his parents taught him.
“Don’t make sudden movements, keep both hands on the steering wheel, don’t reach for your I.D. unless you ask specifically,” Duncan says. “There have been shootings and actually killings where people claimed to have reached for their I.D. so I didn’t want to do that. I asked the officer who was close to me could he do that, so he reached in my pocket and grabbed my I.D. and they verified who I said I was.”
Duncan says the officers quickly realized they did not have the suspect they were looking for, but he wondered why he was stopped to start with.
“It deescalated very quickly,” Duncan says. “They apologized. Then the detective who was on the scene said that they were looking for a murder suspect.
Duncan says he and his wife continued on to the grocery store. They talked with their sons when they got home but didn’t think much more about it.
“It really escaped me until George Floyd died and when he died, one of my friends said ‘Tim that could have been you.'” And that’s when it hit me that I had normalized situations that shouldn’t be normal. And many times in the African American community , we brush these things under the rug because we’ve been taught to accept these types of behaviors from police because it can keep you alive.”
Duncan took to social media Monday detailing what happened on Facebook. He says for far too long he and other African Americans like him have normalized police brutality and injustices. It wasn’t his incident, rather George Floyd’s that served as his wake up call.
“This isn’t normal. This isn’t something I should have to think as a normal situation and immediately I thought about how can I not only educate my kids but my student athletes that this can happen to an African American male in an affluent neighborhood in Boston–the most liberal city–the most liberal state–the bluest of blue states in all of the country.”
Duncan has also met with his student athletes and staff with this message.
“It can happen to your athletic director and not someone who is on the fringes of the law and not someone who is portrayed as a thug that’s walking down the street with his wife. I wanted our student athletes–African Americans and the non-African Americans to understand that we have dual societies within America and we need to work better to try to have one set of rules for everyone.”
Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.