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Video Of Whitman Police Confronting Wedding Guests Raises Questions Of Racial Profiling

By Beth Germano, WBZ-TV

EAST BRIDGEWATER (CBS) — A video of an incident at a wedding in East Bridgewater is raising questions about whether an officer may have been racial profiling in a confrontation with some wedding guests.

Words were exchanged in the parking lot of the Villa at the Ridder Country Club in East Bridgewater when police say guests who were drinking in the parking lot were asked to stop by a detail officer. Police say when tensions began to escalate the officer called for backup, including officers from neighboring Whitman.

“Good tax money, good tax money,” one of the guests was heard saying on a video that captured the confrontation. “I’m sure you don’t pay any anyway,” the unidentified Whitman officer was heard responding.

Complaints of racism followed since some of the guests were Latino.

“Do I wish it wasn’t said, yes I do,” Chief Benton tells WBZ-TV. “Is it tantamount to being racial, at this time I don’t see it.”

Chief Benton says he is investigating to see if discipline is warranted, but will reserve judgement until all officers involved file reports.

“If we did something we shouldn’t have, or said something unprofessionally we’ll deal with that.”

At least one of the guests involved in the incident did lodge a complaint with the East Bridgewater police department.

In a statement late Wednesday night, a statement attributed to the Escoto family said they were disrespected and humiliated despite their assertion they were doing nothing wrong.

“If such a comment from the Whitman police officer was not based on race, then what was it based on? Our family is made up of hardworking professionals, business owners, doctors, lawyers and we all pay taxes. And that’s a fact! We refuse to be mislabeled by the media or Chief Benton as being disorderly and drinking in the parking lot, we are a honest christian Latino family. We refuse to accept this racist treatment as acceptable because it’s coming from the “authorities”. Enough is enough Whitman police, end your racist treatment now!” the statement said in part.

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