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Actor J.D. Williams of HBO’s "The Wire": Fear of Police Harassment "Second Nature" for Black Youths

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J.D. Williams, an actor who played drug dealer Preston "Bodie" Broadus on the hit HBO series, "The Wire," took part in Sunday’s New York City march against the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy. "It’s a sad thing that it becomes kind of natural with young black men," Williams says. "It kind of becomes second nature with us, in a way where we expect to be stopped or we expect to be bothered or we expect to be harassed." [includes rush transcript]


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: During Sunday’s stop-and-frisk silent march, I also spoke to actor J.D. Williams. Yep, he played drug dealer Preston "Bodie" Broadus on the hit HBO series, The Wire.

J.D. WILLIAMS: I definitely am here to support the end of stop-and-frisk. I was invited by the NAACP and also by NAN. So, definitely here to support. I’m from New Jersey, but I’m in Manhattan every day, so I’m definitely subject to this policy also.

AMY GOODMAN: Have you ever been stopped and frisked?

J.D. WILLIAMS: Well, not—luckily, not in Manhattan, but in some of the outer boroughs. And like I said, I’m from New Jersey, so we don’t have a stop-and-frisk policy, per se, but we do have a very high racial profiling, you know, incident rate, so I have been stopped, but just not in New York. But, you know, that air and that feeling is always there with young black men.

AMY GOODMAN: And how do you feel when you get stopped and frisked?

J.D. WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, you feel like anybody would feel anytime they’re, you know, violated, robbed, humiliated. You know, it’s just a feeling of—you know, a sense of helplessness. And then the helplessness turns into anger. And the anger turns into rage when you’re abused or, you know, misused so many times. So, even when it’s not you directly, you feel angry for, you know, the people that it happens to. So, you know, it’s a cumulative effect. So, you know, short answer: you feel bad.

AMY GOODMAN: How old are you?

J.D. WILLIAMS: Thirty-plus.

AMY GOODMAN: How many times have you been stopped?

J.D. WILLIAMS: In my life? On foot? I really probably couldn’t count. Maybe—maybe less than 10. Maybe, maybe, possibly. But like I said, it’s a sad thing that it becomes kind of natural with young black men. You know, it kind of becomes second nature with us, you know, in a way that—where we expect to be stopped or we expect to be bothered or we expect to be harassed.

AMY GOODMAN: How are you involved with The Wire?

J.D. WILLIAMS: I play the character Bodie Broadus, Bodie Preston Broadus. And, you know, he starts out as a low-level dealer, and he ends up moving up the ranks until the pressure of the life becomes too much for him, and, you know, he has to make adjustments and ultimately has a tragic end.

AMY GOODMAN: And President Obama wrote to you guys that he liked the show, or you just heard he did?

J.D. WILLIAMS: Well, actually, yeah, it was kind of a word-of-mouth message that came to the cast. So then we ended up putting together a package of autographed posters and DVDs and things and sent it to him.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you think the message of The Wire is that President Obama and everyone else should understand?

J.D. WILLIAMS: Well, I think the biggest theme throughout the series was that no one is basically good or bad.

AMY GOODMAN: Actor J.D. Williams, who starred as Bodie in the HBO series, The Wire.

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