White People Behaving Badly: 5 Recent Times the Cops Were Called on Well-Meaning Black Folks
It seems like every few weeks we hear another story of white people calling the police on black folks who are just out in public doing normal, everyday things. So here’s a quick roundup of five recent incidents that went viral, their background stories and what happened to those involved after the incident.
Here are 5 stories of white people behaving badly:
1. BBQ Becky (Oakland, California — April 29, 2018)
At 11:20 a.m. on a Sunday morning, Dr. Jennifer Schulte spent two hours on the phone speaking with police to report a black family and friends having a barbecue at Lake Merritt.
A man named Onsayo Abram had set up his charcoal grill in a spot where he’d seen numerous other people grilling outdoors. Schulte approached Abram and correctly told him that he was setting up his grill in an area designated for non-charcoal grilling.
When Abram said, “Go on about your day and leave me alone,” Schulte reportedly responded, “No, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I’m gonna need you to shut this down, or I’m gonna call the police.”
Then Schulte did as promised. Later, a witness began recording her call and asked why she was bothering. Schulte responded, “Because it causes extra money from our city to do things when children get injured because of improperly disposed coals.”
(The last report of a child being injured by improperly disposed coals was in 2015, according to Oakland’s parks department.)
Police arrived, and when Schulte met them at a nearby convenience store parking lot, she began crying and claimed that she’d been harassed. The police didn’t arrest anyone, though they did question the barbecuing family for about an hour.
Schulte quickly became a meme, and the image of her calling the cops was placed into scenes from Black Panther and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. After having her identity exposed, Schulte deleted her LinkedIn page and black Oakland residents held a defiant, well-attended “BBQing While Black” social event one month later in the exact same spot.
Kenzie Smith, one of the men barbecuing with Abram that day, also decided to run for Oakland City Council.
2. Permit Patty (Oakland, California — June 23, 2018)
— Raj ? (@_ethiopiangold) June 23, 2018
A woman named Alison Ettel called the police on an 8-year-old black girl selling bottled water outside of her apartment, alleging she was “illegally selling water without a permit.”
The girl was selling water to sports fans outside of AT&T Park on a 96-degree day. Ettel claims the girl was noisily calling out customers, disturbing Ettel within her apartment while she tried to work.
Ettel says she asked the building’s doorman to quiet the girl down, but then Ettel confronted the girl directly and called the police on her. That’s when the girl’s mother, Erin Austin, began filming Ettel’s call.
Austin told the media, “She comes out and demands the permit for my daughter. She said if we didn’t give it to her she’d call the cops. So I said, ‘Ok, call the cops.’ And she did.”
In the video Ettel says the girl’s crime is “illegally selling water without a permit.” While she’s right that one needs a vendors permit to legally sell goods on the street, one wonders whether she’d have called the cops on white children selling lemonade.
In the video of her call, Ettel tries to hide behind a wall to avoid being recorded. It was later discovered that Ettel is the founder and CEO of TreatWell, a cannabis-infused product to ease pain in humans and pets. She quickly resigned as the company’s CEO as local pet stores vowed not to carry the product in light of her behavior.
3. Pool Patrol Paula (Summerville, South Carolina — June 24, 2018)
Stephanie Sebby-Strempel told a 15-year-old black teen and his friend at a community pool to leave the pool and threatened to call the police on them. The teen began recording her, and in response she tried to slap the phone out of his hand twice.
According to the person who recorded the video, Sebby-Strempel had called the teens “punks” and racial slurs, though the slurs weren’t captured on camera.
Police came and spoke with the teen, his friends and Sebby-Strempel. The teen’s friend’s father told police that the teens had been invited to use the pool by the father of a friend who lived in the community. Apparently that community member wasn’t at the pool when the teens were harassed.
According to police reports Sebby-Strempel “allegedly pushed one detective into a wall and bit another on the arm, breaking the skin.” She was arrested the next day and charged with one count of third-degree assault and battery and two counts of assaulting, beating or wounding a police officer while resisting arrest.
Sebby-Strempel was also revealed to be an independent consultant of skincare company Rodan + Fields. The company terminated her after video of the incident went viral.
4. ID Adam (July 4, 2018 — Winston, Salem)
This man called the cops on a Black neighbor while she was using a community pool pic.twitter.com/V6caCaF6SF
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 6, 2018
Adam Bloom served as chairman of the Glenridge Community Swimming Pool when he approached Jasmine Abhulimen around 1:21 p.m. on July 4. He asked her for her ID to prove that she had authorization to use the pool.
Abhulimen began recording the incident and stated that Bloom hadn’t asked any others for their ID. Bloom said that as pool chairman it was his job to ensure that unauthorized people don’t use the pool. Bloom then called the police when Abhulimen refused to hand over her ID.
When the police arrived, she showed them that she did in fact have authorization to be there. The police then left.
Soon after the incident went viral, Bloom tendered his resignation as the pool chairman and also resigned from the board of the local Home Owners Association. The company he worked for, Sonoco Products, also fired him.
5. Coupon Carl (Chicago, Illinois — July 13, 2018)
Morry Matson, a manager of a CVS drugstore in Chicago, called the police on a black woman named Camilla Hudson for trying to use an unfamiliar manufacturer’s coupon at his store. Matson believed Hudson was trying to to use a counterfeit coupon.
According to Hudson, the incident escalated until Matson and another manager tried to throw her out of the store, slamming a door in her face and, ultimately, calling the police twice. In a video recorded by Hudson, a trembling Matson describes her as African-American, to which she replies, “I’m black. Black isn’t a bad word.”
He summoned the cops. Three policemen showed up and, after investigating, she left the store without further incident.
In a statement, the Chicago Police Department confirmed officers responded to a call of an “assault in progress” at the store. “Police were informed that a female was inside the store threatening the staff and refusing to leave,” the statement said, adding that the “victim did not press charges and no police report was filed.”
CVS apologized to Hudson, investigated what happened and fired Matson and the other employee involved. The Log Cabin Republicans, the LGBTQ conservative political group whose Illinois chapter had elected Matson as President, had its charter revoked by the national organization after learning of his actions.