UPDATE: Following the now-viral video of an overzealous white woman who called the cops on a group of black people having a barbecue at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, locals came together and held a huge gathering in the park.
People who attended shared footage from the event in which folks can be seen dancing, eating, laughing, and holding space while simultaneously delivering a metaphorical middle finger to gentrification and the criminalization of black and brown bodies.
The party appeared to last until nightfall, with the crowd never seeming to dwindle.
How Black Oakland responds to a white lady calling the cops on Black folks BBQing... pic.twitter.com/kRdJpnmXQ2— Brotha B (@BlakeDontCrack) May 11, 2018
The footage from the event has since gone viral, receiving a largely positive response from people throughout the nation applauding the Oakland natives who are reclaiming their city and their right to move freely in it.
Ironically enough, the event — which was held on May 10 — had already been planned for weeks before the incident involving the unnamed white woman became national news.
In Oakland, May 10 is considered "510 Day," a play on the city's area code.
“It’s sort of a weird coincidence,” admitted Nicole Lee, an Oakland native and executive director of Urban Peace Movement, which sponsors 510 Day.
In yet another ironic twist of fate, the event was always planned as a demonstration against gentrification.
"As long-term residents are being pushed out and newcomers are moving in, we see more and more examples where Oakland locals, especially black folks and other people of color, are made to feel unwelcome in their own city,” Lee said. “Racial discrimination and gentrification work hand in hand.”
However, The Root reports that the community plans to hold another cookout on May 20 that appears to more specifically address racism as it’s called, “BBQing While Black.” The upcoming event is set to begin at 11 a.m. in the same location.
On 510 Day, there were no overly concerned white women present to regulate the participants' barbecuing methods, and we can only hope that "BBQing While Black" goes off without a hitch as well.
An African-American family in Oakland, California, attempted to enjoy a warm summer day by setting up a charcoal grill in a park like they had done for decades.
Unfortunately, their cookout was disrupted when a white woman in the vicinity thought they were not following the rules and decided to call the police.
According to KRON-TV, two friends, Onsayo Abram and Kenzie Smith, were setting up the barbeque by Lake Merritt when an unidentified woman began to argue with them over the use of a grill in the park.
Apparently, the woman believed she owned the property as, according to Abram, she referred to it as "my park" and told him "you guys shouldn't be here, you shouldn't be doing this."
"She walked up, and she was telling me that it was illegal and against the law to have a charcoal grill at the lake," said Abram. "I proceed to tell her, 'Hey, there's not a posted sign. I believe I'm in the correct area. Go on about your day and leave me alone.' So she said, 'No, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I'm gonna need you to shut this down, or I'm gonna call the police.'”
The woman hung around for two hours, clearly determined to drive them out. However, Smith’s wife, Michelle Snider, who is white, couldn’t take more of the ridiculousness and started to record the incident. Snider went on to call her “f****** coal Nazi police” for not letting her husband and his friend enjoy their day.
"I started ... calling her out," Snider told SFGATE. "If you're here this long, is this really about charcoal and the police, or is it really because you don't want two black men having a barbecue? ... I just didn't see any reason why there was a threat."
The video of the confrontation has since attracted hundreds of views on the internet.
The footage showed the woman, who was adamant the two black men were trespassing, waiting on the phone to talk with the Oakland Police Department while other people tried to dissuade her.
She asserted the grills are “illegal” in the park and threatened the black family with jail time.
“She said that we were trespassing, we were not welcome, and then she turned back around and said, ‘Y’all going to jail,'” recalled Smith.
For about 10 minutes, the woman argued with Snider about park rules.
“They’ve got other things to do other than sit here and listen to another white lady complain about black people in Lake Merritt Park,” said Snider, who grew increasingly impatient with the woman. “This is a park for everybody.”
Police ultimately did respond to the calls where they took down a report with both parties saying they were harassed.
“I’m being harassed,” the white woman said, playing the victim.
“I reported over two hours ago some people were illegally grilling in the park with a charcoal grill where they’re not supposed to, I was waiting there for a response because I was told they’re coming,” the woman told an officer through sobs. “After two hours, I just called back the non-emergency line, and in the interim these people came up and started harassing me, physically pushing me.”
According to an official Oakland Park and Rec map of Lake Merritt, the park in question has six designated barbecue locations: three stationary charcoal locations, and three non-charcoal portable grill locations.
Smith and Snider were barbecuing in a non-charcoal grilling location.
They might have been going against the rule, but it surely wasn’t a crime — which is what the white woman was trying to build it into.
In fact, according to Abram, just the weekend prior there were people charcoal grilling in the same area.
Even the law enforcement officials said the nature of the offense was not so severe that it would require intervention of police.
"I think it is really incumbent on all of us that when we call police, it is for emergency purposes," said Oakland City Council member Lynette Gibson McElhaney. "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."
Fortunately, the case did not get out of hand as no arrests were made.
But Abram did get frustrated by the entire episode, which was “shocking” for him as he has been a longtime native of Oakland.
"I've never had to deal with something like this in my 42 years in Oakland," Abram said. "At first I was kinda shocked, and then I was angry. I've been here all my life. And for somebody who probably hasn't even been in Oakland for 10 years or more is over here trying to make rules and regulations on something that me, as a property owner and as a tax payer and as a lifetime resident in Oakland, [someone is] telling me what to do, how to do it, how to move and how to live my life."
It seems white people have a terrible penchant for calling police on African-Americans when they are just going about their daily lives, be it sitting at a coffee shop, falling asleep in a common area in Yale University, or leaving an AirBnb residence.
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