A resident in an upscale community in Southern California called 911 because a Black firefighter was working in the neighborhood and then another resident videotaped him while he worked.
Kevin Moore, a member of the Oakland Fire Department, was conducting standard city-mandated vegetation-management inspections around homes in Oakland Hills on May 16, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report released Sunday. While checking for debris that could contribute to fires, Moore was in full uniform with his fire truck parked nearby. A resident still thought he looked suspicious and called 911.
On the same day, in a separate incident, Moore was questioned and filmed by a resident who also found him suspicious. The resident emailed the footage to the Oakland police community liaison officer for the Montclair Hills neighborhood.
Moore had just started inspecting the man’s property when he was confronted.
“He kind of startled me,” Moore told the Chronicle. “He takes a picture of my ID and says I need to get a different one. I’ve had that ID for years. It’s kind of dark, and I’m more of a dark-skinned Black guy, but you can still see me.”
Vince Crudele, who supervises the inspection program, said the resident named Moore’s sneakers as a reason he might have been a fake firefighter.
“It’s obvious he’s doing an inspection,” Crudele said. “Kevin’s wearing his blue wool firefighter pants, he’s got a radio and [a department] jacket and shirt on.”
According to The Mercury News, Crudele said notices were sent in April to “all residents in the Oakland hills just as we have [done] for the past 15-plus years” letting them know that firefighters would be conducting annual inspections.
Councilwoman Annie Campbell Washington, who represents Montclair, said the reaction of the residents is racial profiling.
“It sounds to me like a very typical case of racial profiling, which is incredibly disappointing,” Washington told The Mercury News. “I hope this incident inspires all of us to question our motives when we call the police and ensure we are not putting someone in harm’s way.”
Moore was among firefighters honored for “bravery and heroism” in 2008.
“It’s extremely unfortunate,” Fire Capt. Damon Covington told the San Francisco Chronicle of the incidents.
“From the outside, it certainly appears to be unfair and unwarranted. The fire service is a microcosm of the world.”
Covington, who is also president of the Oakland Black Firefighters Association, added, “Racism exists in the world, and it exists in Oakland and everywhere else.”