And now, reported to the police for babysitting while being black

Oh, I see. So it’s really his fault.

I think if I were the parents, I would be glad that my babysitter did not let some random stranger talk to my children in a parking lot. She might have been a potential kidnapper or something.

Except, of course, that she is a white woman and he is a black man, so he should trust her good intentions implicitly.

How do we know that?

That would depend on what 911 is there to do. Is it just the number for the police? Then, no, I wouldn’t have a problem with that, really. It’s just a concerned citizen reporting something they find suspicious. The police then can choose to investigate or not.

But if 911 is the emergency number? Then both are wasting everyone’s time reporting something that is not an emergency. I could see that being criminal. I would want the punishment to fit the crime, so probably a first time would just an admonishment, but I would want there to be an option of prosecuting repeated non-emergency calls to 911.

In this situation, I am presuming this is a non-emergency number. As such, I don’t see any reason to punish the caller other social shame. However, I do question the police’s choice to get involved based on only what she said. Some would say there’s no harm in checking, but I disagree. There is a cost in this: that of allowing people to disrupt the lives of perfectly law abiding citizens. Police should need some minimal level of cause to investigate, and “felt uncomfortable” does not fit that, in my opinion

Good grief. The little girl, Addison, said to a reporter:

Looks like we should be trusting the kids over adults in this kind of malarky.

I tend to agree. At the same time, though, I think we should be able to do something about people who feel entitled to weaponize the service, especially against people of color, whenever they feel vaguely uncomfortable or encounter something that is merely outside of their range of experience.

I guess the best outcome we can hope for is social opprobrium and, as happened in this case, that the person suffers some other consequence for their bigotry or prejudice, such as losing their job.

I don’t agree “kudos” to the officer. How many times did he need to ask them if they were okay?

And let’s be honest: At the point in time, that man’s life was in the hands of two small white children. Thank god they were good kids, and told the truth.

I can’t even begin to imagine what that must feel like.

Er… Filing a false police report.

IANAL, but in New York it does not appear that calling 9/11 even if your suspicions are unfounded constitutes filing a false report. It’s more like reporting a crime that you know didn’t happen.


Same wo7ld be true if she had just minded her business.
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I think you’re being unfair. The officer couldn’t be certain of the whole story at this point. Unless the police are certain that the reporting woman is a racist fool (if she has priors, for example) then policy must surely be to remain calm and civil but prioritize certainty about children’s safety, and the quickest and easiest way to do that (and let the guy go on his way) is to talk to them. Peripheral social concerns must take a temporary back seat to that. The racist woman’s bullshit is entirely responsible for this, and if it’s a widespread problem we must find a way to deal with it other than making cops reluctant to check on the safety of children when it’s in question.

His life? We’re discussing this cop’s behavior, and whether it was appropriate. Based on this cop’s behavior, what evidence do you have that if the kids lied, there would have been anything other than an orderly arrest? And what would you expect a cop to do other than arrest the guy if the kids confirmed that they were being kidnapped? And how would that be the fault of anyone other than a racist woman + stupid kids?

The apartment confrontation happened in St. Louis.

No, sorry, it was obvious to me, those kids were fine after the first asking. Also, cops need to stop entertaining this shit. Instead of questioning the children over and over, he should have been questioning that lady. Asking her what reason does she have for suspecting there was something wrong with this gentleman.

I’m not sure what you mean by “first asking”. I’m not seeing multiple asking, maybe we are looking at different videos? All I’ve seen is the one (below) linked in the second post, where the “kidnapper” is annoyed but calm and cooperative; the cop is polite but firm about asking the kids to step out of the car at 1:20; the cop is then seen talking in an amicable and chatty way briefly with the kids and the guy; he seems satsified and the video ends 17 seconds later, but it doesn’t show how the interaction ends. Is there another longer video showing the cop persisting longer?

I can’t watch videos right now because I’m at work. But the one I saw the cop asked the kids if they were okay about three or four times.

Er… no. Unless she said something specific to the police that was gone unreported, beyond simply “I feel uncomfortable,” that’s not the crime described by MO Rev Stat § 575.080.

All three sections of § 575.080 require a specific falsehood, and she apparently said only that she felt uncomfortable, which, whatever else we may say about it, seems undeniably true.

Or was there some other relevant section of the Missouri Revised Statutes you were picturing?

Would the St Louis police normally send out officers to respond to a 911 call stating nothing more than, “a man went into an apartment in my building and I feel uncomfortable”? I’m genuinely asking, not trying to be snarky, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that she must have lied or exaggerated to 911 to get a police response.

Not to defend this lady, but “I don’t think he lives here” or “I think he’s a burglar” is both not a lie and not a false report.

When I had a run-in with a shady character years ago, the police told me I should have just called them after the first shady thing he did, and not waited until he went completely off the rails.

What this does require is some critical thinking skills, and an understanding that the police go into these encounters with the knowledge that anyone in this country could be carrying a gun, and criminals caught in the act might not shy away from using it.

I wholeheartedly agree in principle that people should not be permitted to abuse 911. I am sure you might have run across the article by a former 911 operator about how “a black person is doing (insert perfectly normal activity)” is something they had to deal with every day, and of course dumb 911 calls are not restricted to Verbing While Black. People have called 911 because their favourite TV show wasn’t on. Personally I am kind of amazed anyone calls 911 for anything that is not a dangerous or serious health situation, but maybe in some places that’s how it’s supposed to work.

The thing is, though, that we don’t want to create unintended consequences. The 911 system has saved a lot of lives - like, thousands and thousands of them. As maddening as Verbing While Black calls and harassment are, anything done that disincentivizes the use of 911 could, while reducing harassment calls, also reduce effective calls. Absent a really good statistical analysis I don’t know either way what the correct step is, but ensuring people feel empowered to call for help strikes me as being the likely safest approach.

It’s weird - some people will call 911 because they didn’t get the right cheeseburger, other people won’t call 911 when they see a drunk driver speeding off the wrong way on a one way street.

People seem over-empowered to call for help right now. When they see a normal black man with some white children the safest approach is to call for help? You are part of the problem.