- People consistently called the police for frivolous reasons this year.
- Often, the calls were racially motivated and there were several examples of white people calling the cops on black people for no clear reason.
- These events have gone viral lately now that virtually everyone has a camera on their phone.
One of America’s most consistent pastimes seems to be calling the police on each other no good reason whatsoever. This year was no exception.
In almost every case, the unwarranted police calls appeared to be racially motivated. This year there were an enormous number of incidents where white people call the police on black people while doing everyday things, like sitting in a Starbucks, barbecuing in a public park, or trying to enter their apartment building.
These police calls were all the more noteworthy given the charged history of exchanges between law enforcement and the black community. In March, for example, Stephon Clark, an unarmed 22-year-old black man in California, was shot six times in the back by local police. The deaths of Phliando Castile, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown became critical touchpoints for the Black Lives Matter activist movement
In many cases, there have been conflicting accounts about these kinds of incidents. But the rise of smartphones with cameras and social media means that a lot of these incidents are now captured on video – and those videos often go viral.
Here are the 13 dumbest reasons people have called the police in 2018.
A professor asked police to escort a student out for putting her feet on a chair.
- Twitter/Apurva Rawal
In November, University of Texas at San Antonio anatomy professor Anita Moss, who is white, called the police when one of her students, who is black, put her feet up on the chair in front of her.
Police complied and took the student out, according to video footage of the incident taken by another student. UTSA later suspended Moss and is investigating the incident.
A Dunkin’ Donuts worker called police on a family speaking Somali.
- Dunkin’ Donuts
At a Dunkin’ Donuts in Portland, Maine, in October, a worker told Hamdia Ahmed and her family to “stop yelling” when they spoke Somali to each other.
“We were speaking in our native language before we even spoke through the microphone to place our order. Out of nowhere, the shift manager screamed at us and said, ‘Stop yelling, leave or I’m calling the cops,'” Ahmed wrote on Facebook. “I was surprised to hear this because we weren’t even doing anything. The shift manager told us to leave and she was calling the police. She also refused to take our order.”
The worker called police, who spoke to Ahmed and her family. They initially issued a “no-trespass” order forbidding her from returning to the store for a year, but rescinded it a few days later after sitting down with her and Dave DaRosa, the owner of the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise.
Local police officials and DaRosa apologized over the episode.
“Golfcart Gail” called police on a black man cheering his son at a soccer game.
In October, a woman in Florida – dubbed by the internet “Golfcart Gail” – reportedly called the police when Gerald Jones, a father watching his son’s soccer game, yelled to his son.The incident went viral when another parent at the game wrote about it on Facebook.
“Shame on you Golfcart Gail for what you did to this man and to the children who had to see this,” the witnessing parent wrote. “Can you imagine how afraid his child must have been to see this happening?!”
Police spoke to both Jones and the woman who called the police, and left without making any arrests, according to video footage of the incident.
“I don’t have any reason to detain you,” a police officer told the father.
A white woman called police on a black man entering his own apartment.
- Facebook/D’Arreion Toles
At a St. Louis apartment building in October, a woman called the police after repeatedly blocking a black man from entering the apartment building where he lived because she was “uncomfortable.”
The man, D’Arreion Nuriyah Toles, was ultimately able to get into his room. But he said police officers knocked on his door 30 minutes later because the woman had called them.
The woman was fired from her job at a different apartment building after Toles’s video of the incident went viral.
A woman called the cops on a black man who didn’t let her talk to the kids he was babysitting.
- Facebook/Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis, who runs a youth program in Georgia, was babysitting a couple of family friends’ kids one Sunday in October.
A white woman went up to them in a Walmart and asked to speak to the children. Lewis declined. So she called the police.
“All because I got two kids in the backseat that do not look like me, this lady has took it upon herself to say that she’s going to take my plate down and call the police,” Lewis said in a Facebook video. “It’s crazy. … It’s 2018 and you see what I’ve got to deal with.”
Police called the childrens’ parents and spoke to Lewis but didn’t press any charges.
A college student had the cops called on her because she “seemed to be out of place.”
- Oumou Kanoute/Facebook
Oumou Kanoute was eating lunch it a common area at Massachussetts’s Smith College in August when the police arrived.
A college employee, it turned out, called them because she “seemed to be out of place,” according to a transcript of the 911 call.
“I did nothing wrong, I wasn’t making any noise or bothering anyone,” she wrote on Facebook. “All I did was be black. It’s outrageous that I some people question my being at Smith College, and my existence overall as a woman of color.”
When the officer arrived, he spoke to her and then apologized for the call. Smith College placed the employee on leave after Kanute’s post went viral on Facebook.
Two CVS employees were fired after calling the police on a woman who they believed was using a fraudulent coupon.
- Camilla Hudson/Facebook
Camilla Hudson, a woman living in Chicago, tried to use a coupon she had towards a purchase at CVS in July. But CVS employees balked at it, claimed it “looked fraudulent,” and called the police to say an “assault” was taking place, according to Chicago’s police department.
Police made no arrests and CVS Health fired two employees it says were responsible for the incident. One of the employees was the president of the local Log Cabin Republicans chapter and a candidate for alderman in Chicago’s 48th ward. Less than a week later, he withdrew from the race.
A Yale student was confronted by police when she napped in her dorm’s common room.
- Lolade Siyonbola/Facebook
Lolade Siyonbola, a black graduate student at Yale University, took a break in May while working on a paper in her dorm’s common room.
Another student, Sarah Braasch, who is white, turned on the lights to wake her up and said she’d called the police, according to Siyonbola’s account.
Siyonbola didn’t leave. When the police arrived, they verified her identity and didn’t arrest her.
Two Facebook videos of the incident Siyonbola posted went viral. She said it wasn’t the first time Braasch bothered her for being in the dorm’s common spaces.
“I deserve to be here,” Siyonbola told the police at one point. “I paid money like everybody else. I’m not going to justify my existence here.”
Yale University president Peter Salovey told INSIDER at the time that he was committed to “equity and inclusion” at the university.
“Let’s pledge to go about our work and study at this university with the idea of making Yale a better, more welcoming, and more inclusive community,” Salovey said. “Each of us has the power to fight against prejudice and fear.”
A California resident called the police on a black firefighter doing building inspections.
An Oakland resident filed a police report on firefighter Kevin Moore in June because he was conducting routine building inspections.
Moore, who is black, was wearing a firefighter’s uniform and had a big, red firetruck parked nearby as he walked from building to building to conduct the inspections.
It was the second time this year police were called on Moore while he was doing his job, he told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“BBQ Becky” called police on a black family barbecuing in a public park.
In one of the most viral incident this year, Jennifer Schulte – a white woman living in California dubbed “BBQ Becky” – called the police because a black family was grilling in a public park.
Police made no arrests. Schulte was widely condemned on social media and by local officials. Oakland City Council member Lynette Gibson McElhaney told HuffPost that it was an example of “blatant racism.”
“Police are not private security for any white person that’s offended by the presence of black folks in our public spaces,” she said.
Later in May, community members held an “anti-racist barbecue” at the park.
American Airlines called the police on a black woman whose arm touched the white woman sitting next to her.
Amber Phillips, a digital media strategist, said the woman sitting next to her on an American Airlines flight in May asked flight attendants to call the police because their arms touched.
“The cops were called on me for flying while fat & Black,” she said on Twitter. “Flight attendant called the cops on me bc I made the white woman sitting next to me uncomfortable bc my arm was touching hers.”
When Phillips arrived in Washington, D.C., police removed her from the shuttle bus and questioned her, she said. An American Airlines spokesperson told The Washington Post it had an “obligation” to call the police based on the request of a passenger. No arrests were made.
Two black men were arrested while sitting in a Philadelphia Starbucks in April.
Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were waiting to meet someone in a Philadelphia Starbucks earlier this year when the police arrested them.
A Starbucks employee called the police when the two declined to purchase any drinks before the person they were planning to meet arrived.
The event led to a nation-wide shakeup at Starbucks. Every Starbucks temporarily closed in May for racial sensitivity training, and the company settled a lawsuit with the two men, paying for their full college tuition. Philadelphia police didn’t charge Nelson and Robinson with any crimes.