The past few weeks have seen a spate of news stories about white Americans calling the police on people of color who appear to be simply going about their lives ― whether waiting at a Starbucks, golfing, attending a university tour, leaving an Airbnb, napping or barbecuing.
These incidents have sparked fierce debate about racism in the U.S. In most of these cases there was no apparent threat of harm, making it hard to avoid the conclusion that the people who called the police did so because of a conscious or unconscious belief that people of color simply don’t belong, or that they inherently pose a danger or threat.
Ironically, the real danger in such encounters often comes from white Americans calling 911 on their neighbors of color ― effectively deploying the threat of violence, as police interactions with black people in particular are disproportionately likely to end in excessive force or death.
“When you engage law enforcement in these kinds of things you are opening the door for things to go very wrong,” Oakland, California, mayoral candidate Cat Brooks told KRON News this week, after a white woman called the police on black residents barbecuing in a local park in an area designated only for non-charcoal grilling. Brooks cited “the potential for arrests like in Philadelphia with those two black men or worse physical assault or death.” “I don’t believe in this day and age that white folks don’t know that,” she added. Read more