A Bronx native who spent years working on Capitol Hill and in the White House with the Obama Administration said he got a surprise visit from NYPD officers last Friday as he moved into his new apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Darren Martin, who is African-American, said he was unsettled when he was met by several police officers. It turns out, someone called 911 to report a “robbery in progress” — and he was the suspect.
“…I’m in my apartment but you know – you can’t go nowhere without the cops following me,” Martin said during the encounter, which he live streamed on Instagram. “Somebody called the cops on me in my own building. About how many are ya’ll? … About six of ya’ll showed up, rolled up on me.”
According to PIX 11 News, Martin recently made the move back to New York after landing a job with the city and finding an apartment on the city’s Upper West side, a largely affluent and predominately white neighborhood, thanks to gentrification.
The former White House staffer said he had a busy schedule, and that Friday was the only time he could move into his new apartment building. He said he never expected anyone to call the cops on him.
“As a black man when you’re in an all-white environment, you’re cognizant of that,” he said. “I have to say I found it kinda symbolic. [It’s] like welcome to the neighborhood.”
In the video Martin later shared to his Facebook page, one of the responding officers raises the volume on his radio where a dispatcher can be heard describing the report of someone trying to “break in the door” with a “possible weapon,” PIX 11 reported. An investigation ultimately determined nothing about Martin’s activity was criminal.
Martin said his race, along with the changing demographics of the neighborhood definitely played a role in the police being called on him. He said he hopes the incident serves as a learning moment for the neighbor who called 911.
“The broader message to everyone is get to know folks before you make these assumptions,” he said. “When you make that call there’s no turning back and it could have ended very differently.”