PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A Black student at a Rhode Island law school said a courtroom deputy mistook her for a defendant, and her TikTok video recounting the incident has gone viral.
Brooklyn Crockton, who is in her third and final year at Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, shared a video last week, The Providence Journal reported. She said she was second in line to enter the courtroom at the state District Court when a deputy sheriff pulled her out of line, the newspaper reported.
Crockton said the deputy let other lawyers through before commenting “I don’t have you on the docket.”
“Are you a defendant?”
@sobrooklyn_ I am still stuck #lawschool #blacklawyers #CorollaCrossStep #fyp #blacklawstudents #lawyersoftiktok ♬ original sound – Brooklyn Aubrey ✨
Crockton was at the courthouse representing indigent clients through the law school’s experiential Criminal Defense Clinic, according to the Journal. Senior law students are allowed to practice in court in Rhode Island if they are supervised by a licensed lawyer, the newspaper reported.
“It kind of threw me off balance,” Crockton told WPRI-TV. “I was aware that situations like this had occurred with other law students, but I just couldn’t believe in that moment that it was happening to me.”
On TikTok, Crockton told her viewers that “I have never been so embarrassed in my entire life, like I felt like crying in that moment.”
“You hear stories like this all the time with Black attorneys, but when it happens to you, it’s just so visceral,” Crockton added. “Why would you assume that I was a defendant? I think we all know why.”
The deputy offered a quick apology, Crockton told WPRI. She did not identify the deputy.
The Roger Williams University School of Law told “Good Morning America” in a statement that it is “grateful” and “proud” that Crockton shared her story.
“As soon as we learned of the incident, we reached out to the state judiciary and sheriff’s office to work together to address it,” the school said. “At RWU, we also have been addressing this through our training of students, including a new required course on race and American law, and we are engaged with our alumni, members of the practicing bar, and the state’s judiciary in our work to create a less biased and more equitable legal system.”
The Rhode Island Judiciary said in a statement it is looking into the incident.
“Although the Division of Sheriffs is not under the supervision or control of the Judiciary, they are our justice partners and the State Court Administrator has been in touch with the chief of the Division of Sheriffs about the video,” the Rhode Island Judiciary told “Good Morning America.” “While both the judiciary and the sheriffs require implicit bias training for their staffs, an encounter like this is an opportunity to talk about and challenge the assumptions we make about the people that come through our courthouses every day. That is what we intend to do.”
David DeCesare, chief sheriff of the state’s Division of Sheriffs, did not respond to a telephone message left Tuesday, the Journal reported.