One Conversation, Two Histories — My perspective on an incident in a San Francisco doorway
A chance encounter this past weekend has upended my life in unexpected ways. Many of you know the parts that you’ve seen — the video of a conversation that happened outside my home. I’d like to share some extra details about that event that I think add some important context.
First just some background on that day:
- I was leaving my building with my child to take him to a friend’s house.
- Like many in San Francisco, I live in a building with a security callbox and residents in the building count on that security measure.
- I noticed Wesly Michel caught the door and entered the building without using the callbox. I did what came naturally and asked where he was going. I want to be clear on this point, this is something I do regularly, regardless of who the other person is.
- I offered to hold the door open while he used the callbox to contact his friend.
- As I learned later, Wesly was a friend of a guest of a resident in the building. The building resident was not expecting Wesly.
- When the encounter turned confrontational and I couldn’t resolve it myself, I called the police.
Here’s where the complexity begins. I was coming into this situation with my unique history.
My father was murdered outside his home by a trespasser who he confronted alone. For my child’s safety, my safety and that of the building, I felt it was necessary to get help in this situation. Furthermore, I’ve encountered trespassers in my building and we’ve been robbed several times. This is not uncommon in San Francisco and the bad actors are all different colors.
I now realize that Wesly was reacting based on his unique history as well. Unfortunately there is a terrible pattern of people calling the authorities regarding people of color for no other reason than their race. The last thing I ever intended was to echo that history — and I’m sorry my actions caused Welsy to feel unfairly targeted due to his race.
I believe people are good at heart. It’s our past experiences and fears that cloud even our best intentions. I hope Wesly will read this and understand my history as I have tried to understand his.