When a black couple in Mississippi decided to spend one day of their holiday weekend having a picnic, they drove to a lake on the outskirts of Starkville, Mississippi, only to be confronted by the manager of a local campground—with a gun.
In a video published to Facebook on Sunday, Jessica Richardson captured her encounter. Richardson captioned the video with “RACISM IS ALIVE AND WELL!!” and explained that she, her husband, and their dog had been at the lake less than five minutes when “a truck pulls up and a white lady screams at us.”
“This lady just literally pulled a gun because we’re out here and didn’t have reservations for a lake we didn’t even know we needed reservations for,” Richardson says in the video, as a woman in shorts and a campground T-shirt approaches them with a handgun, telling them they should have checked in with the campground’s office. “We didn’t know. All you had to do was tell us,” Richardson says to the campground manager, as the woman points away from the campground with her free hand.
“We didn’t know,” Richardson repeats. “The only thing you had to do was tell us to leave, and we would have left. You did not have to pull a gun.”
The woman then tucks her gun into her pocket. Richardson told WCBI on Tuesday that she had told them during the encounter, “Get, get, you don’t belong here.”
She wrote in her Facebook post that her husband, Franklin, stopped by the office after the encounter and that the woman’s husband, also a property manager, told him that they didn’t need a reservation for the lake after all. (It remains unclear if the Richardsons were accidentally trespassing or not, as the lake itself is public but the picnic area might have been on private land.) But then, Franklin Richardson told WCBI, the woman returned: “[S]he pulls up flying, hops out of the car, then proceeded to yell at my wife: ‘Get in the car, you need to get back in the car.’ Just cussing her out, and she’s not even saying anything.”
Franklin Richardson, an Army National Guard Sergeant, had recently returned from a nine-month deployment overseas. “It’s kind of crazy,” he told WCBI. “You go over there and don’t have a gun pointed at you, and you come back home and the first thing that happens is you have a gun pointed at you.”
To Jessica Richardson, the racism behind the interaction was clear. “You can feel the intent behind it,” she told WCBI. “I felt it. I felt the heat from it. I felt it in her eyes. I knew exactly what it was.”
A spokesperson for Kampgrounds of America, the chain that oversees commercial campgrounds, including the one in Starkville, told WCBI that the woman had been fired.