Bathurst man called ‘suspicious’ for reading, not for being black

Bathurst man called ‘suspicious’ for reading, not for being black

Bathurst — In the northern New Brunswick city of Bathurst, home to around 13,000 people, one resident was deemed “suspicious” for holding and reading what appeared to be a book, containing words, with no pictures or anything.

Police stopped the literate man, who is black, on his way home from Stonehaven Wharf on Thursday evening. He was informed by RCMP that he was pulled over because of several calls reporting a “suspicious” reading man who wasn’t playing with his phone or smoking or talking to a buddy, but reading from an honest-to-god book.

“We didn’t even notice he was black — he wasn’t listening to rap music as far as we could hear,” said one RCMP officer. “It’s certainly not a crime to be black in Bathurst, but it is very, very weird to see a guy just reading by the wharf. All we read around here are takeout menus and the stickers on those Irving Pump up the Fun contest things.”

Longtime Bathurst barber Francis Ouellette was the first to notify the police of the dubious bookworm. “I saw him down there and said to myself, ‘What the heck… this guy think he’s a scholar or something? Where’d he get that book, anyway?’ I called up the cops and they promised me they’d at least question the guy — he had to be plotting something. You don’t just read a chapter book because you want to; not in my experience, anyways.”

The lone reader said he’s not angry at being pulled over, but is very disappointed in fellow Bathurst residents who deemed it necessary to report him for his literacy. “Come to think of it, I never have seen anyone else in Bathurst reading, but to report me for doing so? That’s sad,” he said. “Since Thursday, everyone I’ve seen in town has muttered things like ‘Hey there, professor,’ or ‘Think you’re smarter than us?’ under their breath. I’ll probably never live this down.”

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