The Boston Police Department is facing backlash from civil rights activists after footage of a white police officer harassing a Black pedestrian he stopped and questioned for at least two minutes surfaced on social media. Now, local leaders are calling for changes within the department.
Video of the intense exchange was posted to YouTube by a man who said he was improperly stopped by an officer as he walked to the barbershop Thursday, local station WCVB 5 reported.
In the video, the cop, identified as Officer Zachary Crossen, is heard telling the man he looks like someone named Kevin they were looking to speak with. The man responds, informing the officer that his name is not Kevin. Crossen doesn’t let up, however.
“You sure?” the officer replies, before asking for the man’s name again.
“Why you wanna know my name?” the man behind the camera retorts.
Crossen, dressed in jeans, a beanie and a Boston police vest, then gets out of his car and continues to question the man, asking him what he’s doing out in the middle of the day.
“It’s noontime on a Thursday,” he says, suggesting the man should be at work. “What are you doing today?”
“Why are you bothering me?” the man asks the officer, at one point flipping him the bird and calling him a pig.
Crossen goes on to grill the man about where he lives and if he was out “killing time,” the Boston Globe reported. Footage of the tense exchange, which lasted nearly two minutes, ended peacefully but drew intense criticism on social media.
On Monday, the man, identified by the Globe as Keith Antonio, appeared at a press conference alongside Boston civil rights leaders, who argued the footage reflected a pattern of biased treatment that goes against the community policing model promoted by Boston PD.
“This has been an ongoing situation, when the interactions between the police department and members of our community, particularly those who are black and brown and male, are not friendly,” said Jamarhl Crawford, an activist with newspaper Blackstonian and civil rights group Mass Police reform.
Rahsaan Hall of the ACLU of Massachusetts also weighed in, stressing the need for more transparency and accountability within the city police department.
“And we need to confront this narrative that the Boston Police Department ‘does it right,’ when there are so many examples of them not doing it right,” Hall said at Monday’s news conference.
A spokesman for the department confirmed to ABC News that Boston Police Commissioner William Evans is aware of the incident and is reviewing the footage “to determine if any rules or regulations were violated during the encounter.”