A black California firefighter, who was in full uniform and trying to do his job in the Oakland Hills section, was instead harassed by residents and had the police called on him as he tried to conduct safety inspections, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
Even with a bright red fire truck parked nearby, it wasn’t enough proof that firefighter Kevin Moore was legit as he worked checking for debris that could contribute to a fire as racists instead took issue with his very presence.
“It’s extremely unfortunate,” said fire Capt. Damon Covington, president of the Oakland Black Firefighters Association.
“From the outside, it certainly appears to be unfair and unwarranted. The fire service is a microcosm of the world. Racism exists in the world, and it exists in Oakland and everywhere else.”
It’s become commonplace for white people to confront unassuming black people and call the police on them. Even when they are working, black people are scrutinized. Recently a white woman called the police on a black realtor who visited a home he had a contract on. And the case of the two black men who had the police called on them by a white Starbucks manager and arrested while waiting on a business associate created a national outcry and forced the retail chain to reassess their dealings with customers and create new policies and procedures.
In this case, it’s routine for Oakland firefighters to check for hanging tree branches, and other hazards that could contribute to a fire. It called vegetation-management inspections. Moore was wearing his full uniform and was equipped with his radio and clipboard.
“I try to put myself in other people’s shoes, like if I see someone in my yard, I’d ask what they’re doing,” Moore said. “That’s why I always call out, ‘Hello! Hello! Oakland Fire Department!’ Because I want to be heard. I just don’t want somebody to look out their window and see somebody in their backyard. I’m not trying to be incognito.”
His colleague, firefighter Megan Bryan, an acting officer, said 911 contacted her to verify the situation.
“I knew that he (Moore) was the one on that street,” Bryan said.
Bryan, a white woman, admits that she’s never had the police called on her for doing her job.
Moore said he approached one home and the resident was in his face videotaping him.
“He kind of startled me,” Moore said. “He says, ‘Well, what are you doing here?’ I say, ‘We’re here doing our annual vegetation inspection.’ Then he asks for ID. I say no problem. He takes a picture of my ID and says I need to get a different one. I’ve had that ID for years. It’s kind of dark, and I’m more of a dark-skinned black guy, but you can still see me.”
Moore said he suggested that the resident look at “a big red fire engine is right there.”
Then a resident emailed Vince Crudele, who supervises the inspection program, some security video showing Moore’s face and he canvassed the area and rang doorbells to notify residents of his presence.