Calling Police on Black People Should Be Considered an Act of Attempted Violence

All it took was one phone call.

According to police reports, a woman called 911 to report that she and her boyfriend were being threatened by a group of black teens wielding knives and sticks. Soon the caller said her companion was being assaulted. Minneapolis Park Police arrived on the scene, and one officer immediately pulled a gun on the group of boys, handcuffed them all and forced them to sit on the ground in the blazing sun as the team searched for the 911 caller and alleged victim.

The two distressed individuals were nowhere to be found.

False reports to the police are sadly common as people continue to “swat” — to call emergency services claiming a crisis in order to bring a large police presence to an enemy’s home. One of the most recent public swattings targeted anti-gun activist and Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg, who was away from his home when police and other members of a SWAT team surrounded it, convinced there was a person holding hostages inside.

Some describe swatting as a prank, but most recognize that calling in a mass of armed officers ready to respond to a potential life-or-death situation is more than a “prank.” Instead, it’s an act of aggression akin to potential manslaughter.

Now we need to recognize that calling the police to report a black person — even a child — with a weapon is nothing short of attempted murder.

This shouldn’t be a leap by any means. After all, it only took a few seconds for police to draw guns and murder Tamir Rice in Ohio for the crime of playing in the park with a toy gun. In that case, police disregarded the warning from the caller reporting the boy, who said clearly that the gun in question may have been a toy.

We are now well aware of what can happen when police are activated to report to any incident that involves alleged weapons and black people. We cannot pretend otherwise. If you call the police to report a black person with a weapon — even if it is a minor, and even if it isn’t a gun — you are effectively saying that you are willing to see that person harmed or killed.

And making a false report? That’s a good as trying to assault them directly — which appears may have been part of the motive of the people placing the call.

USA Today reports:

The aftermath of the incident was captured in a Facebook post that has since gone viral with a video and photos of two of the boys in handcuffs in front of a police car. In her post, Brianna Lindell wrote that a young, white male around 17 years old was harassing the boys when she and her partner arrived. “He was spouting racial slurs at them and aggressing them with a metal trash can lid and saying he had a knife,” Lindell wrote in the post. A girl with him was on the phone, she said, presumably calling police.

Placing a false police report is a misdemeanor, and Minneapolis police said they are following up to try to understand who placed the call. If it becomes more certain that, as the witness claims, this was a racially motivated crime, perhaps additional charges would be added, too.

But this the Twin Cities, where weaponless black people easily end up dead simply because the police think there might be a gun involved. Jamar Clark was killed by police in November of 2015, Philando Castile was killed in July of 2016, and Thurman Blevins Jr. just this June.

Police and the park board say they will fully investigate the incident by finding the caller and trying to understand what led one officer to immediately pull his gun on unarmed teen boys. But whatever they find won’t change the simple fact that calling the police to report a black man who might have a gun is tantamount to putting that man in danger of losing his life.

Calling the police should be treated with the same severity as committing assault. After all, it is essentially asking the police to hurt that person on your behalf.

Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr


Marie W
Marie W1 months ago

Thank you.

Paulo R
Paulo R7 months ago


timothy m
timothy m7 months ago

False reports should be dealt with harshly. But reporting an ARMED individual is attempted murder if that person is black?

Racist bullshit.

Marija M
Marija M7 months ago

tks for sharting

Lynne Willey
Lynne Willey8 months ago

I also believe that the victims ought to be able to sue for emotional distress and the time wasted in having to prove they had done nothing wrong. These crazy irresponsible people need to do some jail time and pay. Civil liberties are for ALL AMERICANS the people who are within our borders.

We need to make sure every school kid has to read and have some basic understanding of the Constitution.

Lynne Willey
Lynne Willey8 months ago

I believe that the police should go after the people making the calls and that the courts should fine them all of the expenses incurred as a result of the phony complaints.

Karen H
Karen H8 months ago

Are you ready for the latest? I'm calling her "Sidewalk Sally". She's a white woman in Berkeley who followed a family of mixed race down the street, complaining that they were "taking up too much room". They stepped aside and offered to let her pass, but she declined and began harassing them, telling them to "Get out of Berkeley" because they didn't belong there and "you don't belong anywhere". When police arrived, the white woman said the "mob" had attacked her. The white woman was arrested. The mixed-race couple chose not to press charges. Fortunately, there were witnesses who told police it was the white woman who was the problem. Thank goodness the police got it right.

Angela G
Angela G8 months ago

those calling police for small infractions should be fined

Karen H
Karen H8 months ago

Yes, Chrissie R, falsely reporting a crime is a crime. But is it enforced? No. That has to change. Once people like Permit Patty realize that a nonsense call could result in a fine and/or jail time, they might think twice before reaching for that cell phone. Does it look like a real crime? Then call. Is it someone wearing socks at a pool or having a BBQ in a BBQ-designated area? Think how stupid you'll look when a video of you ends up on the internet. Is it worth losing your job?

tammy C
tammy C8 months ago

Many white people are killed too!