National Association of Realtors angered by Black realtor handcuffing incident

Real estate agent and two Black clients – including a child – mistaken for burglars during house viewing

National Association of Realtors angered by Black realtor handcuffing incident

An incident involving the detainment and handcuffing of a realtor and his clients at the hands of police, while viewing a house in Wyoming, has prompted accusations of racial profiling from the National Association of Realtors.

Real estate agent Eric Brown (pictured), his client Roy Thorne and his 15-year-old son, who are Black, were viewing the property on August 01, when five patrol cars converged on the scene after a neighbor reported a break in.

At least five officers surrounded the house and drew their firearms, while a recording of the incident from one of the officers’ body cams shows police yelling repeatedly at the occupants to step outside with their arms in the air.

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Once in the front yard and with guns pointed at them, the three were handcuffed and questioned before being released on the spot. Speaking to the media afterwards, Thorne – an Army veteran - said they feared they would all be killed, while Brown accused the police and the caller who had reported the break-in of racial prejudice.

Charlie Oppler, the president of the National Association of Realtors, the country’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.4 million members, issued a statement accusing the police of racial profiling, while describing the detainment of Brown as “deeply disturbing”.

He said: “While, thankfully, neither Brown nor his clients were physically harmed in the incident, racial profiling – and the humiliation, indignity and trauma that comes with it – has no place in our country.

“NAR’s top priority is the safety and well-being of all of our members as we work tirelessly each and every day to make the American Dream of owning a home a reality for all.”

The City of Wyoming Police Dept later issued a statement, exonerating the officers and saying that while it was “unfortunate” that innocent individuals had been placed in handcuffs, officers had acted “reasonably according to department policy based on the information available to them at the time”.

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It added: “After a thorough internal review of the actions of each of our public safety officers who responded to this incident, we have concluded race played no role in our officers’ treatment of the individuals who were briefly detained, and our officers responded appropriately.”

Defending the officers’ actions, the statement went on to explain that police had arrested a man for breaking into the same property just over a week earlier, and that a caller had claimed the same person had returned to the scene in his vehicle with two other individuals.

Police said Brown’s black Hyundai Genesis had been mistaken for the suspect’s vehicle, a Mercedes sedan.

MPA has contacted the National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America (NAMMBA), which is dedicated to promoting women and minorities in the real estate industry, for comment.

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