A woman in Georgia followed a black man home Sunday and called the police on him, apparently because she assumed he had kidnapped the two white children he was babysitting. One of the man’s videos of the incident has been viewed online more than 543,000 times.
Corey Lewis, who runs an after-school mentoring program in Marietta, Georgia, had taken the 6- and 10-year-old children he was babysitting to a Subway restaurant inside a Walmart after spending some time at an indoor play area. When he took the children back to his car, he noticed the woman watching him from a Kia sedan, according to the New York Times.
Once he secured the children in their seats, he pulled out his phone and started livestreaming a video on Facebook, narrating the encounter as the woman came forward to ask if the children were OK. “Why wouldn’t they be OK?” Lewis said he had responded, according to the Times.
The woman left but then returned and asked to speak to the older child. When he refused and returned to his car, she got back in her car and tailed Lewis as he drove to a nearby gas station and then home.
After the initial encounter, she had taken down his license plate number and called the police to report suspicious activity, and at his home, Lewis was met by a Cobb County police officer.
Lewis, who also streamed his interaction with the police, told the officer that he was being followed and harassed. The officer told Lewis that he would have to question the children.
“At this point in time, it’s like an OK check, just to make sure everything is all right,” the officer says in the video.
The children told the police the same information Lewis had, and the officer appeared convinced but said he still had to call the parents. The parents told CBS46 they were horrified to learn Lewis had been racially profiled, and the officer appeared to agree that the incident amounted to a matter of race.
The children’s mother told NBC News that she had asked the officer, “Are you telling me that because a woman saw a young African American male with two white kids that they were pulled over by the police?” He replied, “Yes, ma’am. I’m sorry. That appears to be what happened,” she said.
While Lewis talked with the officer, he asked why Lewis was filming. “I’m letting the world know what’s really going on,” Lewis says in the video. “It’s 2018, I can’t step out into the community without being profiled.”
This newest incident of someone calling the police on a black person doing something legal and mundane has been termed “babysitting while black.” In recent months, people have called authorities on black people engaged in activities as normal as napping, campaigning, lounging poolside, grilling, mowing a lawn, staying in an Airbnb, and hanging out in a Starbucks.