A black resident of an Indianapolis apartment complex was sitting by the complex’s pool when a white off-duty police officer confronted him and told him to leave the area.
Shayne Holland has been a resident of the River Crossing at Keystone apartment complex for more than a year. On July 6, he was relaxing in a pool chair when a white woman working as security—later identified as an off-duty officer from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department—approached and asked him if he was a resident of the complex.
“When she asked where I lived, I said I don’t know you and you haven’t identified yourself, so I’m not just going to give you my address,” Holland told the Indianapolis Star. However, he did show her his complex-issued key, which grants him access to the pool, and told her she could test the key as proof of his residence.
At that point, the police officer contacted the apartment office to further verify his residency, and Holland began filming the altercation. He posted several videos of the incident on Twitter.
“What’s your address?” the officer can be heard asking Holland in the video.
“What’s your badge number?” Holland replies, without missing a beat.
When the apartment manager arrived at the pool, she confirmed to the officer that Holland lives at the complex. Rather than settle the matter, however, the dispute only escalated from there.
Next, the officer told Holland he needed to leave the area because he would not tell her his address. The apartment manager sided with the officer. In one of the videos, the apartment manager tells Holland, “You didn’t answer her question.”
Holland responds, “Why do I need to give this lady who I don’t know my address?”
“I just don’t feel like I’m welcome,” Holland says to the apartment manager in the video, and he asks the two women to try to see the situation from his perspective.
The apartment manager notes that a “sign says I can ask anybody to leave [the pool] at any time” and tells Holland to leave immediately. She can also be heard telling Holland to shut up when he says that he feels threatened and cites how frequently black people die in altercations with police officers. When Holland again holds up his key as proof of his residency, the police officer can be seen snatching it out of his hand.
Alex Stokely, the vice president of the company that oversees the River Crossing complex, told the Indianapolis Star that the apartment manager has been placed on leave and that an internal investigation is being conducted.
Swimming pools have a long, racist history dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries, when black Americans were often barred from using pools, and there are many examples of both police officers and white swimmers confronting and even beating black swimmers. In an infamous case in 1964, a hotel owner in Florida poured acid into a whites-only swimming pool in an attempt to force black civil rights protesters out of the water.
These racist incidents are still unfortunately common today. On July 4, a white man in North Carolina called the police alleging that a black woman swimming at a community pool was not authorized to be there. (She was.) In a widely reported 2015 incident, someone called the police on a group of black teens attending a pool party in McKinney, Texas. When the police arrived, an officer cursed out the teens and slammed a young black woman to the ground before drawing his gun on the crowd.
Holland expressed frustration with the way he was treated at his apartment complex last week. “It’s extremely frustrating. … I’m from a place where we didn’t have a pool in the neighborhood. Now that I’m at an age and a place where I can afford to attain that, I still have to deal with being profiled,” he told the Indianapolis Star. “I feel like more and more people in 2018 are comfortable telling young African-Americans what they should and should not be doing.”