Essex Cook and his family were among a diverse group of friends spending the day in Berkeley, Calif., when a white woman approached Cook and told him he didn’t belong there. She then assaulted his cousin and ripped off the shirt of another woman in the group.
When police offered Cook the opportunity to press charges against Lauren Milewski at the time of the incident in May, he declined. But he’s since changed his mind.
“Yeah, I am coming forward to press charges and tell my story,” Cook
told KRON4 on Monday.
“A lot of people was like, ‘what did you guys do’ I mean, I defended my family the best I could without harming somebody.”
On Memorial Day Weekend, Milewski approached Cook who was with his 2-year-old son, his girlfriend — who was five months pregnant at the time — family and some friends walking through the city.
“You don’t belong here,” Milewski told Cook as she approached him on the sidewalk.
“Get out of Berkeley. Get out of here. You don’t belong anywhere,” she said over and over, according to
After following the group, she then attacked his cousin, Elexia Cook, grabbing her braids and dress. Eventually the two fell in the bushes as Milewski hit her. Essex Cook had to grab the woman and put her into a “pinky hold” to get her to release his cousin.
The Cooks repeatedly told Milewski to leave them alone.
“But she ran up to another member of the group — a mother who was there with her own young child — ripping off the woman’s shirt and breastfeeding bra, leaving her breasts exposed and scratches on her chest,” the newspaper reports.
Cook said he just wanted to diffuse the situation because he had anxiety about the police being called. Milewski also began to shout a lie that she was being attacked.
“I saw the police rolling up,” Cook told KRON4. “My heart dropped at that point just being an African-American male, and she is yelling, ‘They are a mob of people who attacked me.'”
Essex Cook with family and friends
The police eventually arrested Milewski for public intoxication, resisting arrest and a probation violation.
Now that several weeks have passed since the incident, Cook is going forward with pressing charges, and he wants to add more charges to prevent Milewski from orchestrating another racially-motivated incident.
He said that “just trying to be a Black person trying to live your life” makes some people uncomfortable and makes them “act in a certain manner that shows who they are.”
Below is a video, which captures part of the incident. Cook can be seen trying to keep space between Milewski and his pregnant girlfriend.