Brian Laundrie's Treatment By Police In Utah And Florida Is A Sad Example Of White Privilege

Photo: YouTube / Moab Sheriff's Department
Brian Laundrie

During the month-long search for missing fugitive Brian Laundrie, many expressed frustration at law enforcement’s failure to bring charges against him in connection to the death of Gabby Petito.

Now that remains found in the Carlton Reserve have been confirmed to be Laundrie, that frustration has turned into anger that justice may never be served in Petito’s homicide.

But Laundrie’s evasion of arrest isn’t the work of a master criminal, nor is it simply bad police work, it’s part of a long history of white men avoiding punishment for crimes Black men suffer great consequences for.

Brian Laundrie not being arrested is white privilege at work.

Petito’s case is unlike many others. Laundrie managed to drive home from Wyoming in his girlfriend’s van, without her.

RELATED: How Police Lost Track Of Brian Laundrie By Confusing Him For His Mother — Because She Was Wearing A Hat

He then, according to Petito’s family, refused to answer questions about her whereabouts for over a week.

Even after Petito was officially reported missing, Laundrie didn’t offer investigators any information until he disappeared from his home days later. 

Even as Petito’s body was found and he remained missing there wasn’t so much as a warrant out for his arrest in relation to her homicide, apart from one for using her bank cards after her death.

When has a Black man been given this much leeway?

We’ve seen many criticisms of the “missing white woman” effect that has made Petito’s disappearance an international case while stories of missing and murdered women of color go unnoticed.

RELATED: Tourist Finds Water Bottle Matching Gabby Petito’s Near Where Brian Laundrie’s Remains Were Discovered

But what about the men of color who face life-threatening situations every time they encounter police officers meanwhile men like Laundrie manage to avoid all repercussions for their alleged crimes. 

If Brian Laundrie was Black, would things have gone differently? 

Laundrie drove a van that wasn’t his own in a cross-country trip that likely took days meanwhile men like Daunte Wright are shot a couple of miles from their homes after being stopped for having expired car registrations. 

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In Moab, Utah, police were called to a domestic incident after a witness claimed Laundrie hit Petito. 

By the end of the interaction, police had declared Petito the aggressor and were seen laughing with Laundrie. Laundrie walks back and forth from the van to get his phone and other items.

Meanwhile, men like Philando Castile, who was never accused of any crime, are shot five times while reaching for their license and registration after being asked to do so.

Castile died in front of his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter. 

Juxtaposing Laundrie’s treatment with the many Black men who have been arrested in traffic stops it’s hard not to imagine that he would have been arrested in Moab had white privilege not played a factor. 

RELATED: Weighted Down Gun Found In Florida Park Where Brian Laundrie's Family Went Camping After Gabby Petito’s Death

Alice Kelly is a senior news and entertainment editor for YourTango. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest. Keep up with her Twitter for more.