The 23-year-old, during a discussion with the Columbus Urban League, referenced an example from his childhood. He recalled how his father got pulled over, and it was jarring to see the interaction. They crossed town lines in New Jersey, the cop car’s lights went on and the probing questions began.
“As a young African-American, it’s really difficult because I have family members who are cops, I have friends who are cops,” Etienne, a Haiti international, said. “I see their character, I know they’re good people, but it’s just when you get those little instances when you’re just going about your day and a cop comes and messes with you, it’s just like, 'I can’t stand ya, I have a problem with ya.’”
Those worries have carried into the present day, with Etienne discussing identical issues he encounters. Even as an MLS player with 66 regular-season appearances, the same worries exist when interacting with police officers.
“I have to make sure I carry myself as if I’m on the same level as him, so he can have some type of respect and we can go about our day nicely,” Etienne said. “But it’s fear as soon as those lights [go on], as soon as a cop comes behind you. Now, I start to feel like my dad, looking over my shoulder, making sure that nothing is out of place, nothing can be done, can be said to have a problem with a police officer. It’s a fearful thing, and when you hear them say things, it’s as if they’re poking at you to try and get a reaction out of you.”
For the entire interview, check out the clip below: