SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – On a day he’s hosting mayors from across the country in Sacramento to discuss the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo., Mayor Kevin Johnson also opened up about his experiences with racial profiling.
“I think being the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, you have to take on the issues of the day,” Johnson said.
Johnson is taking on Ferguson’s racial divide by recounting his own experience when he says Sacramento police officers targeted him for being black.
It’s the first time Johnson has publicly talked about his experiences.
“It happened to me and it was real, and it just helps someone like me empathize in what may happen to some folks around the country,” Johnson said.
The mayor says both times came during his NBA years while he was in Oak Park, driving an expensive car.
“You reflect on these moments a lot?” I ask. “We do because we all want to believe we’re in a post-racial society. We so desperately as a community want to be there. But, unfortunately, the color of a person’s skin still makes a difference,” Johnson said.
In one case, Johnson says an officer gave him a ticket as he sat in his car late at night. The officer said his car was too far from the curb.
“Who gives a person a ticket at 11 o’clock at night because you’re not parked close enough to the curb?” Johnson said.
Johnson says that in another incident, officers put him in the back of a police car.
“I remember like it was just yesterday,” Johnson said.
Two officers pulled Johnson over without telling him why.
“And he finally let me go, and I thought, ‘How degrading. The lack of respect, or humanity, you would treat someone like that. You put someone in the back of a police car, literally,’” Johnson said.
Johnson says Sacramento’s police force today needs more diversity.
“We have 15 percent African Americans in our city, and two percent in our police department in key position. That doesn’t equate,” Johnson said.
“Would you say then that the Sacramento police force needs to make great strides to be where it should be as far as racial diversity on the police force?” I ask. “Well, I just gave you the statistics, I’m not satisfied, there’s nobody in Sacramento satisfied with if you have 15 percent African Americans and two percent that represent the police force. That’s not acceptable … no I’m not satisfied at all.”
The mayor notes that he has a good working relationship with Sacramento Police Chief Sam Somers and that they have hosted Ferguson town hall meetings together.
WATCH: Our full interview with Mayor Kevin Johnson