Re-post from Gabriella Hooks:
I wanted to share what happened to me last night in hopes that it can maybe help some of y’all in case you ever find yourself in a situation like what happened to me.
Last night / early this morning (Saturday 11.2), at approx. 1:00am outside of Nicks Karaoke Bar in South Berkeley, I was cornered and harassed by two cops.
As i exited the bar at like 1:00am, I was not drunk. I noticed two cop cars parked outside of the bar. One was an SUV and one was a car. They were parked so that they were blocking the entrance to the little side street that Nicks is on.
My friend that I had walked out with left and I said bye and walked about 10 feet from the bar door, alone, and stood against the wall.
Then, I pulled out my phone.
I was looking down at my phone for all of like 10 - 15 seconds, when out of nowhere, the two cops approached me.
I distinctly remember hearing an audible "ping" sound that went off as they approached me. It did not come from my phone or anywhere that I was situated at. In fact, I heard the sound before I had even looked up to see them about to be standing right in front of me.
The two cops positioned there bodies to that they were surrounding me / trapping me against the wall and began to accuse me of stealing the phone I had in my hand. MY PHONE.
They said that they were responding to a report about a stolen phone and the "ping went off at my location."
In my head I was already thinking, “...At 1:00am on a Saturday night? That’s what two cops wanted to do with their time? Chase a 'stolen' iPhone?“
They said that the "stolen" phone they were searching for was "pink."
And of course that matched the description of the phone that they saw I was holding in my hand as they approached me.
MY PHONE. They then both tried to use various tactics to try and get me to admit that I had stolen the phone in my hand or had a stolen phone in my purse or committed some type of crime.
They were aggressive and intimidating. I was so fucking afraid.
THANK GOD there were two bystanders who were filming the entire thing from the get go. One of the bystanders was white (they were filming). The other was black.
This whole time, the cops were telling the bystanders who were filming to like go away, step back, etc. Trying to get them to leave. The bystanders were saying things like, What are you doing? She (me) was just standing there doing nothing. Why are you harassing her? She is innocent. She didn’t do anything. What’s your badge number?” Etc etc.
Things I couldn’t think to say in the moment or couldn’t say.
I am so thankful they did not leave / step further away when he cops asked them too many times, because next the cops tried to search my bag.
Insinuating that if I was innocent, it shouldn't be a problem for them to search my bag.
Despite everything I know about cops and my rights, I was so terrified that I was left utterly defenseless and confused about what was happening and how quickly it was escalating.
I am so thankful that the folks filming reminded me that the cops were NOT allowed to do search my bag like that. Because honestly these cops were SO insistent that if I didn’t steal the phone, then I should let them search my bag.
At this point, I was so confused and scared that I did not WHAT to do. I truthfully almost did give them by bag to "search" because i knew I was innocent and these cops were not letting up at insisting I had committed some crime and I was getting more and more afraid.
We all know that thank god i did not cause who knows what they would have put in there to be "found" by them.
The bystanders then suggested that I lock my phone and unlock it to show the cops that it was in fact my phone and if I knew the passcode, I couldn’t have stolen it.
The whole thing was so, so suspect that the cops were hella thrown off by that suggestion.
But I listened anyway and tried to do it, but was so afraid that I forgot how you even lock an iphone.
The filming bystanders verbally walked me through the process of locking a phone so that I could "show the cops that it was in fact my phone."
Once i did that, the two cops supppppper reluctantly left me alone and left hella fast.
All i could do at point was cry against the wall.
After comforting me for some time, the bystanders tried to make sure I was okay and called me a lyft home (my car was parked outside of the bar).
I tell yall this story to remind you of some real important things:
1. if you are white / white adjacent and you see a black person being talked to by the cops, please, take out your phone and film. Tell the cops youre watching and what they are doing is not okay.
Honestly, the black bystander was endangering their own lives by even being as close to the situation as they were and I was worried for them like I was worried for myself.
2. If you are black and brown, don’t forget that we are never safe. It can be outside a bar you’ve been going to for 7 years. It can be outside your house. And we all know that it can be LITERALLY INSIDE YOUR HOUSE. These cops go out of their way to harass and kill us for NO REASON.
They make up shit and create scenarios just so they can plant stuff on us and arrest us for imaginary crimes we did not commit.
3. If you are white and with black people and cops are within eye site, protect them. Keep them safe. Use your whiteness to dissuade cops from thinking they'd be an easy target.
I’m sure I’m forgetting some important /shady ass shit stuff that the cops to me, but I was so so afraid after that I could do for a few minutes was just cry against the wall.
This whole thing was so frightening and im so thankful for the two bystanders who helped me make it out of that situation alive.
Stay safe out there.