Mother says her teen was racially profiled in a Little Rock neighborhood while learning to drive

Around Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK) — A mom in Little Rock hopes people will think twice after she says her son was racially profiled.

Sharon Buffington, the boy’s mother, says it happened Saturday in a Chenal neighborhood called ‘The Village of Wellington.’

Buffington says her son, Chase Buffington, 15, had just gotten his learner’s permit. She had Chase start driving in a nearby church parking lot and once he felt confident, transitioned him to the road.

“It just so happened there was a residential neighborhood right across from where we were practicing,” said Buffington.

Buffington says her son immediately noticed someone following them down each street.

“He looked in his rearview mirror and saw there was a white lady in a little SUV that was behind us,” said Buffington.

The mother of three says she instructed Chase to not worry but to make a U-turn to see what the driver behind them would do. She said the woman continued to follow them with every turn they made.

“She saw a black male driving cautiously and she automatically thought a negative thing,” said Buffington.  

Buffington said the woman ended up calling the police.  A spokesperson for the Little Rock Police Dept. says they received multiple calls from neighbors in the area on Saturday for a ‘suspicious driver.’

“There’s a lot of tension all over the place and a lot of profiling going on,” said Officer Harlan Stark with LRPD.

Officer Stark was one of two officers dispatched to the area. He said while following the teen-driver through the neighborhood, he observed him obeying every traffic law.

“He was not driving like anything suspiciously. He was very specifically obeying the speed limit and stopping at every stop sign,” Stark recalled.

Instead of pulling the 15-year-old over, Stark says he pulled up beside them, to encourage the teen driver.

“He was so caring, and he was cheering Chase on and that made me cry,” said Buffington.

Buffington says she posted a video to Facebook about their experience. The clip has nearly 10,000 views.

Since the post was made, Buffington says multiple people from the neighborhood have reached out to her, apologizing for the actions of one.  

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