STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — A video showing a white man calling the police on a group of Black and Hispanic men in Connecticut has prompted a police investigation and is drawing comparisons to a similar incident in New York’s Central Park last month.
Stamford police identified the white man as city resident Steven Dudek, 57. He is seen on the video at a marina at Cove Island Park last Saturday telling police in a phone call the group is harassing him, saying “white lives matter too” and telling the other men his name is “God.” The group also alleged Dudek sprayed an irritating chemical at them.
“What happened to us is a perfect example of this man weaponizing the police department and as a Black man who grew up in America, this happens far too often,” a member of the group, Tarae Frazier, 24, of Stamford, said at a news conference Thursday.
A phone message seeking comment was left at Dudek’s business Friday, and no one answered a home phone listing for him.
Darnell Crosland, a lawyer for the five men who were confronted by Dudek, called on police to charge Dudek with assault, intimidation based on bigotry and making a false report of harassment.
Crosland said the Stamford incident reminded him of the May 25 instance of racism in New York’s Central Park in which a white woman, Amy Cooper, called police to report she was being threatened by an African American man, Christian Cooper, no relation, after he told her to leash her dog.
That encounter also was captured on a widely watched video, and led to Amy Cooper getting fired from her job. There were no arrests, and Amy Cooper apologized.
“What this gentleman knew was that he can weaponize the 911 system, just like the lady in Central Park did, and so he doesn’t have to pull a gun anymore,” Crosland said. “Because of the system that is built on racism and prejudice, he was able to just call 911.”
Frazier, his cousin and three friends including a Bridgeport police officer hauled a boat on a trailer to the park Saturday during a weekend get-together. Dudek told them they did not have permission to launch their boat at the Cove Park Marina ramp because they did not have a slip there like he did.
The video posted on social media shows Dudek appearing to call police and report, “I’m being harassed by a bunch of Black men down here.” A bystander photo, but not the video, shows Dudek pointing some kind of spray can at the group.