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Lower Merions Racial Snowstorm

Lower Merions Racial Snowstorm

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Before Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., there was Erin Forbes in Lower Merion, Pa.

Forbes, the African American son of a microbiologist and a Temple University professor, was a student who worked nights as a security guard in the Philadelphia suburbs. He once told a relative that Lower Merion police stopped him at least three times a week as he drove through the Township for work. One night, after Forbes was accused of stealing $4 from a convenience store clerk and leading police on a chase, Forbes was shot dead by a police officer who claimed the 26-year-old came at him with a walking stick.

Forbes’ tragic story is just one of many tales about the tensions between Lower Merion police and black men. Law enforcement in the affluent, largely white Township is infamous for its heavy handed approach to people of color. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when I heard the outrageous story of two young black men who were stopped last week for the high crime of shoveling snow in Lower Merion.

The incident began innocently enough, according to Deborah Saldana, who hired the two men to shovel outside the Wynnewood home she shares with her elderly father on Tues., Jan. 27.

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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon