Among the other things that could get black men in trouble with the police, “Doing yard work while Black” is the newest addition to the list.
Zayed Atkinson, a black man from Boulder, Colorado was confronted by the police as he was picking up trash from the yard in front of his building. While the incident took place on March 1, the New York Times report that went viral on social media has caused a lot of anger and concern in the largely white city.
According to Ebony, protestors had taken to the streets on March 10 to protest racist policing.
CNN reports that the Boulder Police Department has launched an internal investigation after the encounter took place between a group of officers and Atkinson - which was captured on video and has been circulated online.
The Daily Camera reports hundreds of people marched on Sunday to Boulder Police Department, passing near the site where an officer detained Atkinson. Roughly 600 marchers had joined the march.
The Naropa University student was sitting behind a “private property” sign in a partially enclosed patio. A cop then approached him to ask if he was allowed to be there.
Zayd Atkinson was picking up trash in his yard using a garbage clamp and bucket. A police officer approached him, claiming he was responding to a report of a suspicious person on private property.
According to the video, this officer kept his hand on his gun while questioning him and repeatedly told the “suspect” to drop his “weapon”—the clamp he was using for garbage cleanup.
Shortly after that, the cop called for backup saying Atkinson was unresponsive. Eight police officers responded within minutes and surrounded the man. At least one drew his shotgun.
“I live here,” Atkinson can be heard telling the officers. “I am picking up garbage from my f***king porch. I go to school here. You guys don’t have a right to be doing this.”
He is then instructed by one officer to “put the object down.” Bothered by the scenario, Atkinson tells the authorities, “Don’t f***king tell me what to do. I have a right to be doing this. Are you going to shoot me or you’re going to tase me, arrest me and beat the s**t out of me like every other?” he asked.
"He's picking up trash," the person filming says repeatedly, as the man and the officer exchanged words at a distance. "He lives here," the person filming says. The officer is then joined by other officers and the man and the officers appear to be yelling at each other. The video ends with all the officers walking away.
“We’re so very tired of seeing so many instances of police misconduct here in Boulder that go unchecked,” protester Nami Thompson told CBS Denver. The alleged victim spoke in front of the large crowd saying, “I came out here today to take a stand for colored people everywhere, and not just colored people but all people and all life. . . . It’s not just about me and it’s not just about racial profiling.”
According to the New York Times, one of the police officers involved in the incident had been placed on administrative leave.
The college town’s population is about 100,000 — 81 percent white and less than 2 percent black, according to census data.
And at Tuesday’s meeting, city officials — most of them white — found themselves grappling with issues of structural racism, bias and restorative justice.
At a City Council meeting days later, residents held signs that said “Doing Yard Work While Black” and “Black Lives Matter.” As part of the department’s investigation, chief Testa said officials would interview all of the officers involved and review body-camera footage.
A man at the meeting identified by The Daily Camera as Sammie Lawrence told the Council that as a young black man from Sacramento, who has followed the case of Stephon Clark — who was fatally shot by the police in his grandmother’s backyard — the confrontation in Boulder was “terrifying.”