A Black man in Michigan had to deal with questioning by the police on his way to eat.
A White woman called 9-1-1 on him for the horrible crime of "looking suspiciously" at her.
Devin Meyers was on his way to meet his girlfriend at a café when police stopped him on the sidewalk. They began grilling Meyers for the better part of an hour.
Luckily, a bystander named Kimiko Adolph live streamed the event to help protect Meyers.
Throughout the video, Ms. Adolph narrates the events, making remarks like:
"Royal Oak: Don't be Black."
"He has been pulled over walking to go to eat for suspicion of being 'Black' and looking at the Caucasian woman."
"They got him surrounded. So I'm not going to leave the brother out here."
She kept her phone rolling through the whole incident to protect Meyers as four police officers surround and question him and refuse to let him go. Meanwhile, the woman who called the cops sits in her white car across the street
The Inn Season Café manager, Erin Frey came outside to defend Meyers as he spoke with the police as well.
These two women did a great job keeping things from escalating.
Meyers could easily have been arrested for "resisting arrest"; the only charge many people of color face after being confronted by police for no actual crime.
One of the officers asked:
"So if someone calls about someone, we're not supposed to respond?"
Meyers responds to the issue, using Frey as an example.
"I'm pretty sure if she would've done the same thing, you would've let her go 10 minutes ago."
After letting Meyers go, the police tried to defend their actions to Adolph and Frey, saying they had to look into the situation. Frey pointed out Meyers' same point about how long the questioning lasted.
The officers said:
"All he had to do was say, 'You know what? I'm just parking my car, minding my own business-'"
When Kimiko Adolph answered:
"He did. Several times."
What do the police think happened here?
The Royal Oak Police Department originally declined to provide any other information other than they have an internal investigation into the matter.
Mayor Michael Fournier had little more to say, in a statement released to the press calling on both police officials and the wider community to confront their racial biases.
"We are in the process of evaluating what mistakes have been made and we will own them, we will learn from them, and we will continue to strive to be better in everything we do."
As the story spread, people became involved in the discussion surrounding the incident.
HOW in the year of our lord 2019 is this STILL happening https://t.co/C1sNhG3gZ4— Teddy Mack🇻🇨 #BLM (@Teddy Mack🇻🇨 #BLM)1565894744.0
So my cousin was racially profiled today in royal oak, MI smmfh. The whites really love calling the cops on black m… https://t.co/YOxUSDUNCP— 𖧵𝕂𝕒𝕞⁷₈ (@𖧵𝕂𝕒𝕞⁷₈)1565838846.0
Black man gets stopped by two cops for looking at a white woman “suspiciously”... it’s 2019 and this is a problem w… https://t.co/I2RN5selF4— childish dombino (@childish dombino)1565877154.0
The woman who called the police has still not been identified. However Friday morning, a Royal Oak police press release detailed steps taken by the department on Thursday.
Chief Corrigan O'Donohue said:
"On behalf of the police department, I would like to apologize to Mr. Myers for how he was treated."
"What should have been a very short encounter was extended when the officer involved insisted on getting Mr. Myers' identification."
Chief O'Donohue further explained:
"The officer had no legal right to demand the identification and should have simply advised [the man] why we were there and allowed him to go on his way."
He added that a Supervisor who told Meyers...
"It's not that big of a deal."
"The responding supervisor did not handle this situation in a manner I expect Royal Oak supervisors to conduct themselves."
"He did quickly advise that [Meyers] was free to go; however, he did not effectively look into the situation or allow those present (Meyers, Erin Frey and Kimiko Adolph) the opportunity to express their concerns."
Police are conducting an internal review and are disciplining the supervisor. The officer who demanded identification is a probationary officer still in training who will receive remedial training.
No update was given regarding other officers who failed to act when the probationary officer violated Meyers' rights.
Sadly, this is probably not the last time we'll see cops called on someone for literally no reason.
Police release of the 9-1-1 audio revealed part of the unidentified female caller's complaint was:
"He's an African-American male, and I don't know what his deal is, but it's making me not feel very comfortable."
The woman was seated in her car. Why not advise her to drive away if the only issue was she felt uncomfortable?
Instead police were dispatched to question Meyers for being Black and making a White woman feel uncomfortable. Meyers remained calm throughout, but had he expressed anger he could easily have become another justifiable police shooting to which many in the public would respond, "why didn't he just comply?".
This is why people kneel.
Incidents like this can be mitigated if the officers involved genuinely do let someone go after a quick chat shows they've done nothing wrong.
People of color "looking suspiciously" at White people is not a crime. Making White people feel uncomfortable in public spaces because of their own biases is not illegal.
Can we please stop responding like it is?
The book 3 Keys to Defeating Unconscious Bias: Watch, Think, Act is available here.