Nov 132013

blackmanNeighbors Call Police for “Walking While Black”

The warning came in a neighborhood bulletin board.  A female resident of the the mostly-white Estudillo Estates neighborhood, had seen three men in their twenties, two of them black,  walking down her street.  She did not recognize them.  Some time later, she saw them again. This time they were walking on the same direction, but on the other side of the street.  She was kicking herself for not having called the police on them.  Surely they were casing houses.  Mind you, she did not say she had seen them look at homes carefully, check out doors or windows, or do anything other than walk down the street. But the mere presence of a mixed-race group of young men, walking down a street, is “suspicious.”

That a white lady in once lily-white San Leandro may hold those views probably should not surprise anyone.  What did surprise me was how popular her views proved among members of the bulletin board.  “Yes,” was the common thread in the responses, “the men were suspicious and the police should be called on them.”  “I would have done the same.”  “Thank you for alerting us.”

I was alone in suggesting that walking twice down a street is not suspicious.  People do it all the time and there are a myriad of reasons why you’d do it – from taking a walk around the neighborhood, to canvassing, evangelizing or even getting lost.   And, indeed, if it was I, a white-looking woman, rather than a mixed-race group of men in their twenties, nobody would have thought twice of it.

My comments, however, were met with derision. How dare I suggest that it’s racist to call the police on young men for walking down the street! One of the men was white, after all.

This attitude prevails in San Leandro because it’s constantly fueled by the Police Department.  The SLPD tells neighbors to report anyone “suspicious.”  The avoid the word “black or Latino,’ and instead use words like “people you don’t recognize” as a euphemism for “people who don’t belong”.   Of course, it behooves the Chief to fuel racial tensions in the community.  If nothing else, it will lead to more crime and more resources for her Department.

That said, I don’t believe that the majority of San Leandrans are racist.  But I do think the best way to stand up against racism is to challenge it.

UPDATE: Everyone is welcomed to comment on this and every other posting. But San Leandro Talk does not accept anonymous comments.  Please use your full, real name.



  51 Responses to “Racism Quietly Flourishes in San Leandro”

  1. Very well done, Marga. Accusing a 10 neighborhood wide area of neighbors who are only seeking to help each other protect themselves of being racist. Lucky for you, two of the individuals this poor woman posted about we’re black. But even if all three were white, I am sure you would have managed to spin the story into a post on “racist San Leandro” anyway. I held no racism against anyone. Now I will keep my eye on you. Thanks for the hyperbole, thanks for the facts you have omitted. And while you proclaim to be “defender of the rights of all to walk down the street unharressed”, do you think you will ever try to defend our right to post on the web unharressed? You caused more harm with your insane tirade than that one woman did with her post. You are more of a control freak than Chief Spagnoli could ever be. Until now, I had considered you a fair person. Now I know better. Let me be the first to invite you to leave the Nextdoor forum for good. You have enough venues in which you can spew your hatred of all who do not think like you. I wait to see if you have the spine to put this up on SL Talks.

  2. @Stephen You’re no different than Mr. Zimmerman! I’m waiting for the day when their will be another “Trayvon” innocent walking down the street and fatally shot and killed by a bigoted and racist San Leandren like yourself.

    • Marga, you live a charmed life. The lead of the neighborhood forum has deleted the entire thread, else I would have cut and pasted your entire tirade. But you knew this, because you are a lead for your neighborhood’s forum.
      The Nextdoor app is basically a forum for residents of a small area, Estudillo Estates for example, do discuss local issues, events, and to alert other residents to possibly dangerous situations and yes, suspicious persons.
      It is a forum with great potential to unite the community. I fist became aware of its existence when I saw a link on the SLPD’s
      Website. ( I know, now Dana thinks I’m a Nazi) . This was about seven days ago.
      Through this forum, i have purchased tools from a neighbor, help a neighbor fix her dishwasher, and made a few new friends. Never in any of these interactions which took place online did I consider race. Not even dear Dana knows my racial background. Neither does Marga, at least to my knowledge.
      But Marga knows all about race.
      In the second sentence of her post she mentions race twice. What she is describing is a post by a woman about three suspicious men making repeated trips down her street. The woman added a description of the three men, including the usual observations related when describing the physical appearance of others.
      Marga seemed to believe that by evaluating this behavior as “suspicious”, this woman was a racist. She goes so far as to write “That a white lady in once lily-white San Leandro may hold those views probably should not surprise anyone.”
      So I have to ask, Marga, how do you know this woman is white?
      Marga then explains how she was alone in her opinion that there was nothing suspicious about the behavior of the three men. Bear in mind the spike in crime in San Leandro over the last few months.
      To put it simply, these men made the hair on the back of this woman’s neck stand up ( a figure of speech) and she used the Nextdoor forum for it’s intended purpose.
      To alert her neighbors to what she perceived as a possible danger.
      Looking out for your neighbors is a basic principle of urban life. Not a ritual of the Ku klux Klan.
      All I can figure was Marga was hurting for material for her blog, and inflated what was a responsible and, for the circumstances, appropriate act into a heinous act of bigotry.
      the poor woman was brow beaten into apologizing to Marga! Still Marga would not let up. Soon people began to speak up. Enough already, some said. This is insane, said others. The undercurrent of negativity became so strong that the lead for Estudillo Estates deleted the entire thread, pronouncing that the nonsense had gone on long enough.
      Check it out. Download the app from the App Store and see for yourself what the forum is about. It couldn’t possibly be racist, Marga is one of the Leads, and a top recruiter of new members.
      And to Dana, a person I have never met, keep your imaginary image of me if you want. But it seems just as bad as the imaginary image Zimmerman had in his head when he killed Trayvon. Bigotry cuts both ways.

      • Yes, Stephen, I do live a charmed life. I live a life that allows me to walk down the street without having the police called on me. I get to walk down the street without my mere presence making the “the hair on the back of this woman’s neck stand up,” to use your phrasing.

        That’s the kind of life I want *everyone* to live.

  3. To clarify: were the police, in fact, called with regards to these suspicious individuals? If this is not the case, the title of the article is rather misleading.

    Having grown up in suburbia South Texas, I can greatly appreciate the communication that exists within this community. I have been blessed with living in neighborhoods where neighbors look out for one another and preventing crime from happening. My previous neighborhood community in North Oakland has been successful in preventing further home robberies after a previous one was reported and the perpetrator was caught.

    I think this neighbor’s concerns were well-founded, considering a few homes in the area have fallen victim to robbery. Home robberies are not just about having physical items stolen from you, it’s also about losing a sense of security in your own home and personal sanctuary.

    • Jillian, do you advocate that people call the police whenever they see someone walking down their street that they don’t know? Should we all be considered suspicious if we dare go beyond our own street or neighborhood?

      The lady did not call the police on those young men, she posted because she wanted to warn the neighborhood she had neglected to do so and wanted to encourage others to. However, other posters indicated that they do call the police on any one they consider “suspicious”. Three men in their twenties walking down the street are to them – and to you? – “suspicious”.

    • Thank you Jillian.Your comments seem reasonable and on point. But notice haw Margarita responds to your first comment. Not a concession of a valid point, but an accusatory question re: your possibly racist views.
      Again I would like to know how Margarita knows the reporting woman is white. Does she know this woman personally? Does she know ANY of the individuals she has called “racist”?

  4. If no call was made, then you cannot state that neighbors called the police with regards to these individuals. That is just plain deception on your part.

    As a young woman, I’m aware of the resources available and will make the judgement call if I feel reasonably threatened in any way. I have been the victim of stalking, harassment, and sexual assault, instances in which I brushed the assailant’s behavior off as all in my head. In retrospect, I wish I had used these resources to prevent my assault.

    I support this neighbor’s decision to notify the community of this; whether people act on it is their own decision, but you cannot object to someone voicing concerns to the community that could potentially be harmful.

    Whatever comes of this situation, whether a house or person or vehicle is robbed or not, it is our duty and obligation to look out for one another within reason. I in no way whatsoever support taking the law into our own hands (why do we pay money to enforcement agencies anyway?) but rather, strongly support the concept of communication between neighbors and friends.

    Acknowledge that this was not a racist situation and let it go. This is just a good neighbor looking out for her community.

  5. Jillian, tell me the truth, do you believe that if instead of three young men in their 20’s, two of them of color, this lady had seen three middle-age white women, doing exactly the same thing, she would have written to alert her neighbors about the fact that they were likely casing their houses? Do you believe she’d be kicking herself for not having called the police?

    And you, Jillian, do you believe that people should call the Police on you every time you go to a residential street and someone there doesn’t recognize you?

    I think the reason why you don’t realize just how racist it is to look at a group of three men, two of them black, and assume they are criminals is that the idea that young black men are criminals has been so hammered into our brains that we don’t even think we should challenge it for a minute. We think we should listen to our instincts. But it’s exactly those instincts that are racist.

    And they are unfair, unfair to the majority of young black men out there, whom should not have to bear the burden of our stereotypes.

    Try to think about it this way. What if people looked at you and decided you looked like a prostitute. What if every time you went to visit a friend in a new neighborhood, one of her neighbors would call the police on you? Sure, they want to make sure that their neighbor remains free of crime. Would that be fair to you? To be considered a prostitute and harassed just because of the unfounded beliefs of others?

  6. Oh, and to your other point, re-read the subtitle. It does not refer to this particular situation.

  7. The subtitle reads “Neighbors call Police for ‘Walking While Black'”. Am I missing something here?

    • Yes, that the title and subtitle describe a general situation, which is then illustrated by the specific example of the woman who wanted to call the police on the three men, as well as by the responses to that situation. I’m sorry if that didn’t come across.

  8. Thsi is the first part of the womans post on which marge bases her entire theory of “Racism Flourishes”…

    I noticed three young men walking in our Arbor Street neighborhood on Sunday around 4:30 pm. They were not neighbors and they walked the neighborhood twice, once on the west side of the street and …

    This is her attempt to further explain herself to Marga after intense harassment:

    First of all, I said the behavior was suspicious, not the men. Secondly, I gave a physical description but did not mean to imply that because of that description that they were suspicious. I am friendly with my neighbors after living here twenty years and make it my business to be alert. The young men were not suspicious on the first go round of the neighborhood and I said hello to the group. It was the purposeful effort to go round again in the same direction but other side of the street that was suspicious. I do not care what race they are. I have been victimized by all of them due mostly to my own naivete and trusting everyone. Being suspicious and alert is a very awkward behavior for me but if it prevents you from being victimized then it will be worth it.

    After further brow beating by Marga, the woman actually attempts to apologize:

    “OK, I realize upon re-reading my post that I did write “three suspicious guys” when I should of written “three men behaving suspiciously”. Sorry, I will be more careful next time.
    But, please stop assuming that because I described them and two of the three were black that I thought they were suspicious because of the two black guys!”

    Please note she reported “three suspicious men”, not two suspicious men and a nice Caucasian boy.

    This is an example of posts by neighbors whom Marga has classified as

    ‘Marga, please stop this is ridiculous. I myself am happy of any posting that is a warning. ****(name redacted to prevent further harassment by Marga’s acolytes) thank you very much for posting. Too many people don’t and a burglary occurs and they say oh guess I should have…. AGAIN **** THANK YOU VERY MUCH….. ‘

    Every other post on this subject supported the original poster and described Marga as

    “making this something that is not…”

    “insinuating racism on the part of **** for her simple and helpful neighborhood-watch post”

    “Marga you should be ashamed of yourself. This has nothing to do with race but it does and only in your eyes. You need to take a look in the mirror and be ashamed of yourself”

    Of the dozens of responses only one person, Marga Lacabe, saw racism in this posting. She then went on to call everyone who did not agree with her as racist, including myself.
    I had, until now, thought of Marga Lacabe as a friend. Let this be a warning to all others who think they are Marga’s “friends”: she will stab you in the back the first time you disagree with her “opinion”. She used deceit, omission, and straw-man arguments to make her “point”. I believe her intent is to hurt the citizens of San Leandro, not to help them. I would suggest a name change for her blog; from “San Leandro Talk” to “San Leandro Slander”.

    Perhaps Marga would be so kind as to ask the opinion of the ACLU, or the NAACP as to the “racist” nature of the post. Until then, the only place I see racism here is in Marga Lacabe’s heart.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.
    Stephen Carbonaro

    • Stephen, while I thank you for posting parts of the actual messages, I have to ask you whether you got permission from the people you’ve quoted. As you know, it’s against Nextdoor’s policy to share messages without permission. Please let me know ASAP.

      But yes, that was the gist of the discussion: that for a group of three men to walk twice down a street was “suspcious”. Nobody did explain why it was suspicious, and you still haven’t either, Stephen.

      What is most amazing to me is that you are so oblivious to how racist your assumption that these men’s behavior was suspicious is, that you think you can prove otherwise by posting the actual messages. And yes, the fact that I was the only one who spoke against this is exactly my point: racism is quietly fluorishing in this city.

      As for friendship, you’ve known me online for a couple of years. My views on race and racism have not changed at all. I’m sorry if you felt they were different.

  9. Are you sure it wasn’t sexism, Marga? or perhaps ageism? or are those forms of discrimination not high on your list of priorities? Perhaps nor “hot” enough to advance your political and sociological ideas?

  10. It’s all put together into one, Stephen. It’s the idea that young, black men are criminals and/or dangerous. It’s what got Trayvon Martin killed for doing something similar to those three men. It’s an idea that has been so entrenched into our minds that we no longer see it as racist but as “reality”.

    But apparently, it’s not a concept that is limited to black men. The recent murder of Renisha McBride, again for similar reasons, shows that young black women are thought of as being dangerous as well.

    Fortunately, I’m guessing that gun ownership in San Leandro is lower than in Florida and Detroit, so hopefully we won’t have our own Trayvon’s and Renisha’s.

  11. This is precisely in essence the role of defense teams under our constitutional law: attack the witnesses, attack the lab, attack the public safety officers and various local officials, and so on and so on. So I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, to keep this in mind when engaging with Marga Lacabe, aka San Leandro Talks.

    It would seem that our city and all of its neighborhoods are a never ceasing trial court to this tenacious and passionate blogger. Her motive? I’m not sure, but I strongly urge you to consider that this is somewhat beside the point. In practice, her professional economic/social status interest lies in deconstructing the world around her, whether or not that is a noble cause. Sometimes, in fact, it might be.

    Because I love you 🙂

  12. If “walking while black” is a crime, then I’m happy to be part of the defense team.

    But it shouldn’t be.

  13. FYI, the original poster to the thread you call racist had her car stolen last night.

    As far as your other question, I am in no way obligated to answer you ASAP. Or ever, for that matter.

    • It’s interesting that you find the theft relevant to this discussion. But if you find it relevant, and you were so quick to find out about it, perhaps you are the one who stole the car. Rules don’t matter to you much to you, otherwise you wouldn’t post private messages without permission. So surely you wouldn’t think twice about breaking the law. And you do have a lot of anger that you need a catalyst to, stealing a car and blaming it on some men of color would do the trick. Maybe I should call the Police on you. Maybe I should post on bulletin boards and tell people to be wary of you because you may be intending to steal their cars next.

      How did that make you feel, Stephen? To be suspected of a crime you didn’t commit?

      Or how about of a crime you haven’t committed, yet? You have expressed an alarming amount of anger and hate towards me. Here on this board, in Nextdoor and elsewhere. You say you are “keeping an eye” on me. You seem to own guns (at least you’re a big gun advocate). Surely I have more reason to suspect that you are intending to harm me, than that lady had that those anonymous men walking down the street meant to harm her. Should I call the Police on you, Stephen? Does it feel good to be suspected of being a criminal for doing things that, to you, may have meant nothing at all?

  14. Now that is funny Marga. I gotta tell you, I didn’t see that coming. Considering how much trouble I have getting my own car to start.

    “Rules don’t matter to you much to you”

    OK, if you say so.

    “you … post private messages without permission.”

    Who said I did?

    “Wouldn’t think twice about breaking the law”

    If that was true, I would have a long rap sheet

    Come with me to the Police Department and we can ask for a report on both of us

    ” You have expressed an alarming amount of anger and hate towards me”

    Sure I am mad at you. you called me a racist.
    You’d be mad at me if I called you prostitute.

    “You seem to own guns (at least you’re a big gun advocate)”

    I wont say I own any. I will say I have a class 3 Federal Firearms License. And taken many classes on firearm safety.
    And yes. I support second amendment rights, First , third, heck even the 14th.. And I have taken an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. And of the State of California. And I have read the Constitution.
    Have you, Dear Marga?

    I am also a graduate of CERT training. Community Emergency Response Teams. ALCO Fire trains us, to save you and others like you in case of a disaster. With only 1 firetruck for every 10,000 residents, your very life may depend on me. But don’t worry. You will be triaged like everyone else.

    Harm you? I wouldn’t know you if you bit me in the nose. Unless you look like Saint Leander.

    Call all the cops you want. I have nothing to worry about.Nothing.

    Don’t be angry. Anger is nothing but fear.

    I’ll tell you why they would have raised MY suspicions:
    Never in my life do I recall walking down a street in such a way. I walk to get some where. I have, in the past, canvassed neighborhoods. For George McGovern. (i know, i know).
    Democrat. And I remember going from door to door, not just down the street. And I have seen many others seeking to minister to the residents, and they went door to door. Even the Girl Scouts stop at each house. These three men were never described as going door to door. They went down the street. First on one side, then the other. Both times in the same direction. Can you think of a rational reason for anyone to do that?

    Now Marga, I think I have had enough. It’s sad our friendship and cooperation had to end over this. But if you think you have the moral high ground to call ANYBODY ANYTHING, just go ahead. And the rest of us will laugh.



  15. P.S.: I recently participated in Urban Shield 2013 as a role player. So I passed the Homeland Security Background Check. Would you pass?