On 11 May 2018, the Facebook page for media company NowThis News published a clip showing what it described as a white woman calling the police on a largely black group of people grilling at a park in Oakland, California:
In total, witnesses said, the woman was at the site of the barbecue for two hours, waiting for a police response. A description for the first clip read:
Oakland, Ca – At around 11:20 AM a white woman approached a black man named Deacon for having a BBQ grill at Lake Merritt today.
She told him he could not BBQ there and called the police. She would not leave Deacon alone. A young black woman was walking by overheard how the white woman was harassing him telling him he can not be there, she stopped and asked the woman to leave her alone. The white woman became aggressive with the woman. She started filming the woman’s aggressive behavior and has told us it’s up on Facebook (probably a live stream).
Shortly after that Deacon’s friend Kenzie arrived. According to Kenzie, the woman said “Oh another nigger.” She proceeded to tell all three of the people at the BBQ table that she owned the park, and they are not allowed there. She also said them they were going to jail.
Kenzie’s wife (me) was up the street finishing brunch at Lakeshore Ave. He texted me a picture of the white woman and said: “If I go to jail this who did it to me.”
So I walked over to the scene, and that’s where the video starts. I arrived 12:50 pm.
The police did not stop the BBQ. They spoke with Deacon about an hour later and said they were BBQ-ing in a permitted zone.
On 9 May 2018, KRON obtained comment from two city officials about the video, both of whom disagreed with the woman’s decision to summon police officers:
[Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson] McElhaney suggests other options instead of calling the police in this situation.
“I want to encourage people to know when to call the police, when to raise a question of regulations with the city council, maybe there is a passive way to reach out to us,” McElhaney added.
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,” said Brooks.
The woman in the clip who initially called police has not stepped forward.
Updated [16 May 2018]: On or about 14 May 2018, numerous Twitter users and at least one blog claimed they identified the woman as a purported Stanford University professor. Stanford University quickly denied that was the case. Two other companies were rumored to be current or former employers of the depicted woman, and social media users commented on their Facebook posts and Google reviews. Several users shared a purported police log from the day of the barbecue, but it was not verified as authentic. The woman in the video has neither come forward nor been officially identified.
Updated [16 May 2018, 1:43 PM]: Added information concerning rumors about the identity of the woman seen in the video.
Madyun, Haaziq. “Family Wants To Create Awareness After BBQ Confrontation At Lake Merritt.”
KRON. 9 May 2018.