A California man filmed the moment he says he was racially profiled by a trio of guards outside the Alexan Webster apartments in Oakland.
Kenya Wheeler detailed the terrifying incident, in which one of the guards reportedly drew his weapon, in a lengthy Facebook post last week. He also uploaded video of the Dec. 11 encounter on which security is heard asking “why do you [take] pictures the car?”
“I took pictures of the bike racks,” Wheeler responded.
Security refused to believe him, however, and further accused the man of “casing vehicles” outside the local apartment complex.
Wheeler says that’s when he was detained and forced to wait for police. At one point he says one of the guards physically blocked him from leaving.
“When a second security guard arrived, I was shocked as I turned toward him to see that he had drawn his firearm as he was approaching me,” he recalled. “I only had my smartphone and my umbrella in my hand.”
Given that the guard had pulled a weapon, Wheeler said he “did not feel safe in exercising my rights to leave and stayed even though I felt it was a false detention.”
Wheeler, who heads the Oakland Bicyclist and Pedestrian Commission, was walking home from yoga class and stopped to snap a few photos of the bike racks along Valdez Street, which were adorned with colorful yarn. The so- called “yarn bombs” were something he hoped to share with his colleagues at the commission, but as he readied to leave a guard stopped him.
Wheeler was eventually free to go home after Oakland police arrived and resolved the manner “professionally.” He’s still upset over the incident, however, and said he believes his race played a factor.
“This is racial profiling, and this is a racial act,” he told local station ABC 7 of the incident, which he said left him feeling “violated.” “The only reason that I’m being treated this way is because I’m Black.”
Peter Jakel, who’s with the P.R. firm that represents the building responsible for the security guards, agreed.
“We share the concerns Mr. Wheeler expressed,” said Jakel, “as he was on a public sidewalk and should not have been confronted at all.”
The firm said it has since changed security providers.
Wheeler said he also received an apology from the building manager, who explained there had been a few recent break-ins and that they stepped up security. He said he hopes his experience will prompt a larger discussion about racism, but also the importance of inclusion and diversity.
“What I do know is that all of us as a community need to come together to ensure what happened to me does not happens to others in Oakland or elsewhere in our region,” he wrote.
Atlanta Black Star reached out to Wheeler for comment and is awaiting a response.
Watch more in the video below.