Ricky Williams has spent the last few days responding to reports of a racial profiling incident he was recently involved in while visiting Texas for a ceremony.
In a video that has since gone viral, Williams is seen coming before police in a Courtyard Marriott parking lot, who called him over and asked if he was armed, before initiating a search. Williams remains compliant throughout the duration of the stop and frisk, but follows it up with a verbal exchange in which he expresses his dismay with the nature of the encounter. “Do you know how many times I’ve been messed with from cops just for being black?” Williams asked, to which one of the officers responded hastily. “I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing. I’m just saying I’m sensitive to it.”
Williams was a guest at the very hotel he was patted down near. The incident happened hours before he was to be honored at the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Awards, on January 11. He had been reported by a man living near the hotel who observed him lingering in a wooded area nearby, which Williams admitted to having ventured into to kill time before the evening’s event. During an interview with Austin’s KLBJ radio station on Wednesday, he said that at the point in which he noticed the backyards of several homes and heard barking from a dog, it did occur to him that it might not have been the safest idea to be wandering through the woods as a Black man in Tyler.
Although during his back and forth with the officers Williams gave them the benefit of the doubt, while articulating that he wasn’t attempting to charge them with profiling, so much as he was expressing his insecurity in the moment; he recounted a remark while on KLBJ, that he found peculiar coming from one of the officers. “He said: ‘If you’re staying at the hotel it makes sense why you were walking here’. But if you came from North Tyler it doesn’t make sense,” recalled Williams. “And I looked at him and said I don’t even know what North Tyler is.”