A bad parking job was enough for one woman to dial city officials on a Black couple in Oregon earlier this week, earning herself the nickname “Crosswalk Cathy.”
“This lady called the police on me because she says my car was blocking the crosswalk,” Portland resident Mattie Khan wrote in a Facebook post Monday with a video of the woman.
“You can’t block the crosswalk,” the woman, identified by Internet sleuths as Nina Showell, tells Khan and her friend, Rashsaan Muhammad as she points to the improperly parked vehicle.
In an interview with the Portland Mercury, Khan said she and Muhammad were waiting for their takeout order from the Little Big Burger restaurant on Tuesday when they noticed a woman standing and staring at their car from across the street. Initially, they didn’t think much of it.
“She looked odd, but it didn’t alarm us,” Muhammad to the news site.
It wasn’t until the couple returned with their food that they noticed Showell was on her cellphone, describing their car and reading off their license plate number to who they assumed to be the police. Muhammad said he tried to strike up a conversation with the stranger, asking who she was on the phone with and what the issue was.
“It was clear she was talking to the police,” he said.
In the video, Khan dubs Showell just another “white person calling police on a Black person because she’s saying we’re illegally parked right now.” The clip is the latest in a lengthy list of viral videos of Black folks having the fuzz called on them for innocuous reasons, such as using a charcoal grill at a park, selling bottled water and even babysitting white children.
However, it turned out Showell wasn’t on the phone with police, but had dialed the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s parking violation hotline, a friend of Showell’s, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Portland Mercury.
“You are [blocking he crosswalk!” Showell says in the video, adding that she’s been watching Khan’s car for the last 10 minutes.
Muhammad acknowledged his poor parking job and said he knew the space was a tight fight when he parked, causing the car to stick out an inch or two into the crosswalk. It’d only take a few minutes to get his food order though, so he didn’t worry about it. The woman did, however.
“She didn’t try to talk to us. She just called the police,” he told the news site. “Why would people spend the time just trying to make our lives harder instead of talking it out like neighbors?”
In the video, Muhammad is heard telling Showell to go back to her neighborhood, to which she responds that she’s from there.
“Not if you’re calling about a car parked less than five minutes across a crosswalk,” he replies. “You’re an idiot.”
Muhammad said the incident — about which he did not endorse Khan’s view was centered on race — was “part of a bigger issue” that needs to be addressed about the lack of communication and sensitivity in their changing neighborhood.
“New people come in and change a neighborhood and it causes these kind of stressful situations. We don’t interact with each other they way we used to,” he said.
Watch more in the clip below.