Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
“My father was murdered outside his home by a trespasser who he confronted alone.”
That’s part of the reason Christopher Cukor, a white YouTube executive, said he called the cops on Wesly Michel, a black software engineer waiting for his friend outside a San Francisco apartment building, on July 4.
In a Medium post published Tuesday night, Cukor explained that his actions — which went viral in a nearly 4-minute-long video filmed by Michel — stem from that trauma in his past. But Cukor also said he regretted the encounter, during which his young son begged and cried for his father to leave Michel alone.
“For my child’s safety, my safety and that of the building, I felt it was necessary to get help in this situation,” Cukor wrote.
“I now realize that Wesly was reacting based on his unique history as well,” he later continued. “Unfortunately, there is a terrible pattern of people calling the authorities regarding people of color for no other reason than their race.”
Michel did not respond to VICE News’ requests for comment regarding Cukor’s apology.
A mentally disturbed person bludgeoned Cukor’s father, who was 67 at the time, outside his home in Berkeley in 2012, according to a 2013 article from the San Francisco Chronicle. Christopher and his brother Alexander criticized local police for not responding to emergency calls made by their father right before the murder took place.
"We find this very disturbing, that a citizen's call for emergency help can go unanswered and leads to his death,” Christopher told the San Francisco Chronicle at the time. “My father should be alive, and we hope steps will be taken to ensure that this could never happen to another citizen."
The original video, which has more than 1.4 million views and 34,000 shares on Facebook, shows Cukor blocking Michel from entering the apartment building. Cukor insists that Michel call his friend to meet with him immediately. When Michel refuses, Cukor calls the cops — and refers to him as “African-American” — despite his son’s objections.
The video ends with Michel’s friend showing up and Cukor asking Michel to stop recording. Police never responded to the emergency call.
Cukor’s Medium post also explains that he has also been the victim of numerous robberies in the building that he tried to keep Michel from entering — but wrote that’s no excuse for his actions in the viral Facebook video.
“This is not uncommon in San Francisco,” Cukor wrote. “And the bad actors are all different colors.”
Cukor’s post references the string of viral videos of white people calling the police on black people doing the innocuous, like 8-year-old black girls selling water, black women swimming in a pool with their children, or black men have a BBQ in a public park. The viral encounters have given rise to popular memes on social media with hashtags like #BBQ Becky and #PoolsidePete.
“The last thing I ever intended was to echo that history — and I’m sorry my actions caused Welsy to feel unfairly targeted due to his race,” Cukor wrote.
Cover image: Screenshot via Wesly Michels' Facebook.