Living while black seems be a battle these days with police being called on people of color for hanging out in Starbucks, playing golf or taking a nap. Recently, a group of black men were targeted for enjoying a barbecue in Oakland.
The incident happened a few weeks ago at Lake Merritt when Kenzie Smith and his friends were barbecuing, something that he’s done for over 20 years with a charcoal grill. As filmed by his wife Michelle Snider, a woman threatened to call the police on the men for setting up their grill in an area intended for non-charcoal grills. After a very long a tedious back and forth, the woman reached the police and hysterically accused the group of harassing her. Footage of the incident was uncovered Friday (May 10) when Snider shared it with local news site KRON.
“She said that we were trespassing, we were not welcome, and then she turned back around and said, ‘ya’ll going to jail,'” Smith said. He also added that the woman’s tone was aggressive but when his wife showed up, who isn’t black, her tone changed.
The police showed up over an hour after the incident and didn’t issue any citations or arrests. According to the Oakland Park and Rec map of Lake Merritt, there are designated areas for charcoal and non-charcoal areas but many people who’ve lived in Oakland for decades claim those rules have never been implemented. The city like many across the country have experienced an influx of gentrification, causing more implicit bias situations like this one.
“I think we need to question the policies that made this woman think woman feel she had the right to harass people,” said Snider. Oakland mayoral candidate Cat Brooks shared how the incident could’ve went left. “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 said.
Snider’s video has racked up over 500,000 views on YouTube and other Oakland natives decided to hold another barbecue in the same area.