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You know it’s bad when your own child realizes you might be overreacting to the racially charged situation at hand.
In a Facebook video uploaded July 4, a white man calls the police on a black man waiting for a friend outside of a San Francisco apartment building the same day. But throughout the encounter, the white man’s son pleads and cries for him to stop and let the black man go inside.
“Daddy, let’s just go! I agree with him, Daddy,” the young boy can be heard saying in the video.
The nearly four-minute-long clip, uploaded by 35-year-old software engineer Wesly Michel, has racked up more than 1.4 million views and nearly 34,000 shares on Facebook since it was posted. It’s just the latest in a string of viral (and at times meme-able) videos of white people calling the police on non-threatening black people doing the innocuous.
In the video, the white man — later identified by Essence Magazine as 43-year-old Christopher Cukor — holds his son close while holding the apartment building door open to confront Michel. Despite Michel repeatedly clarifying that he’s waiting for his friend, Cukor refuses to let him into the building.
Cukor, who is listed online as a YouTube executive, instead demands that Michel call his friend and have them meet him downstairs immediately. When Michel declines, Cukor pulls out his phone and threatens to call the police. The young boy immediately jumps to Michel’s defense.
“Daddy! No, no, don’t!” the boy says in the video. But Cukor refuses to heed his son’s requests.
“You’re just going to be the next person on TV,” Michel says to Cukor. “Just remember that. And you have your son with you."
Michel is heard saying that he would be willing to delete the video if Cukor stops. Cukor instead starts talking to police over the phone.
“Hello? There’s a trespasser in my building and he’s refusing to leave,” Cukor says and eventually describes Michel as “African-American.”
“He’s filming me and refusing to leave,” Cukor later says.
The exchange continues until Michel’s friend arrives.
“Told you!” the boy says tugging at his father’s hand. “Let’s go now!”
The video ends with the Cukor telling police, who don’t respond to his call, that Michel’s friend showed up, but Michel, for some reason, wouldn’t identify who his friend was. And despite Cukor asking him to stop recording, Michel continues to film and confront him.
“Look at you!” Michel says in the video “Now you are online forever.”
In an interview with CNN, Michel elaborated on what was going through his mind as he was recording.
"Unfortunately this incident mirrors the experience that African Americans endure daily where we are questioned on whether we belong," Michel told CNN in an interview. "I videotaped this incident to protect myself and to support my story should police get involved."
The video from July 4 is far from the first time we’ve seen similar situations play out. In April 2018, Jennifer Schulte infamously called the cops on two black men barbecuing at Lake Merritt Park in Oakland California. The incident birthed the now legendary “#BBQBecky” hashtag.
A number of other incidents — including white people calling the cops on 8-year-old black girls selling water and black women swimming in a pool with their children — birthed additional hashtags related to the racially charged phenomenon. One woman, nicknamed “Cornerstore Caroline” by the man filming the encounter, falsely accused a 9-year-old black boy of sexual assault outside a New York City bodega.
But Michel seemed unbothered by his encounter with the overzealous Cukor.
"I believe that ultimately everyone wants to be seen for who they are and not prejudged," he told CNN. "I'm an American, a brother, a son and an ambitious Engineer who loves to code and wants to greatly contribute to the tech world in a city that I love."
Cover image: Screenshot via Wesly Michel's Facebook