A black person fishing in a community pond, two black people jump-starting a car and ‘someone from the Middle East looking mean’ – these are all ‘suspicious’ scenes that have prompted members of the public to dial 911.
These calls were revealed by serving and former police officers who took to the internet to air their astonishment at white people panicking sometimes simply at the mere sight of someone with different racial lineage being nearby.
Dozens have joined an online discussion thread to share their experiences.
The first post, on Reddit’s ProtectAndServe forum, which was set up for the law enforcement community, was called ‘People, please stop making my job so difficult’ and written by a verified police officer called sf7.
He wrote: ‘So I’m working last week and get dispatched to a call of ‘Suspicious Activity.’ Ya’ll wanna know what the suspicious activity was? Someone walking around in the dark with a flashlight and crow bar? Nope. Someone walking into a bank with a full face mask on? Nope.
‘It was two black males who were jump starting a car at 930 in the morning. That was it. Nothing else. Someone called it in. People. People. People. If you’re going to be a racist, stereotypical jerk… keep it to yourself.’
Shortly after the post went up, police officer Amipow revealed that he got a call ‘about someone illegally fishing in a community pond’.
He continued: ‘Once I arrive, I see a middle aged black man fishing in the pond. He looks over when I pull up and immediately approaches me. He said, “Let me guess, my racist neighbors called again saying that I didn’t live here.”‘
A former 911 dispatcher called Nursehokiehi said that lots of people rang in to report a ‘suspicious person’ and when asked for clarification as to what was suspicious about the individual, ‘most would mumble, stumble or even whisper “umm, he’s/she’s black” or “Muslim-looking”’.
Nursehokiehi added: ‘[replying] “Ma’am, it’s not illegal to be black (or Muslim, or Mexican, etc)… ” usually worked.’
Other racist complaints aired on the thread include a lady who called the police because a black man was sitting in a truck opposite her house, a woman in a college town who reported a ‘middle easterner’ strolling along looking ‘mean’ – the officer failed to find this person among the 200 or so walking around – and an anonymous resident dialing 911 at the sight of a black woman walking to her mail box.
And a traffic officer with the handle TeenageExplorer wrote: ‘We frequently get calls about black men and women and kids, yes kids, walking. Like WWB [Walking While Black] was actually a crime and not a Twitter joke.’