It turns out barbecuing is also on the list of seemingly ordinary things Black people cannot do without having the police called on them. File that under #WorkingOutWhileBlack, #StarbucksWhileBlack, #NappingWhileBlack, #GraduatingWhileBlack, #ShoppingWhileBlack and #WaffleHouseWhileBlack.
A family barbecue at a park in Oakland, Calif., was interrupted when a fellow park-goer called the authorities to break up the party.
Michelle Snider, who is white, witnessed what happened and recorded the events on her cell phone.
“This is exactly what is the problem with Oakland today,” Snider said. “This lady wants to sit here and call the police on them for having a barbecue at the lake, as if this is not normal.”
The woman who phoned the police, who has not been identified, called because the Black family was using a charcoal grill in the wrong area.
KRON 4 reported: “According to an official Oakland Park and Rec map of Lake Merritt, there are six designated barbecue locations, three stationary charcoal locations, and three non-charcoal portable grill locations. “
Against the rules, yes — but a criminal matter Apparently to the woman who took it quite personally.
One of the men at the barbecue has been identified as Onsayo Abram.
“She walked up, and she was telling me that it was illegal and against the law to have a charcoal grill at the lake,” Abram reported to the SFGate. “I proceed to tell her, ‘Hey, there’s not a posted sign. I believe I’m in the correct area. Go on about your day and leave me alone.’ So she said, ‘No, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I’m gonna need you to shut this down, or I’m gonna call the police.'”
Abram told the woman to do as she pleased, telling her “I’m gonna continue to enjoy my day.”
Snider and her husband Kenzie Smith were also attending the barbecue.
“She said that we were trespassing, we were not welcome, and then she turned back around and said, ‘Y’all going to jail,'” Smith told KRON 4.
“I have seen people barbecue with charcoal for years,” said Smith.
The same way people have used the restroom at Starbucks before making a purchase for years. Or worked out for years. Or graduated university for years.
No arrests were made in this case.
The woman who made the 911 call does not have the city on her side. Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney told KRON 4 to reserve 911 calls “for emergency purposes” — not to be a nuisance.
Cat Brooks, a candidate for mayor in Oakland, seems to understand the racial issue at hand.
Oakland mayoral candidate Cat Brooks looks at the situation from a different angle.
“When you engage law enforcement in these kinds of things you are opening the door for things to go very wrong, the potential for arrests like in Philadelphia with those two Black men or worse physical assault or death and I don’t believe in this day and age that white folks don’t know that,” she told KRON 4.
The arrests at Starbucks in Philadelphia exemplified that. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said the manager who made the 911 call “never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.” So why call the police
Perhaps it showcases white privilege. Perhaps Johnson is saying the manager assumed the men would not be arrested, because if the men were white, as are Johnson and the manager, it is less likely they would have been arrested. Studies in multiple cities have shown that Black people are more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses, including trespassing, than white people. In Minneapolis, Black people are 8.7 times as likely as white people to be arrested for a low-level offense. In New York City, Blacks and Latinos collectively make up 54 percent of the population — but constitute more than 90 percent of those arrested for trespassing. And in Jersey City, N.J., Black people are close to 10 times more likely than white people for low-level offenses.