A white woman was recorded while calling police Wednesday to report a Black man who was standing outside his rental home in White Center.
In a roughly three-minute video, which contains profanity, circulating on social media, the woman is seen talking on the phone with police dispatch after confronting Dayson Barnes, who is Black.
“If you guys have a lease, I’d just like to see the lease,” the woman, who was not identified, told Barnes and his partner in the video. The video was posted on Reddit on Wednesday by Barnes’ partner.
In 2020, a video of a white woman calling the police on a Black bird-watcher in New York’s Central Park went viral, with many viewing the incident as a reflection of the everyday racism and life-threatening situations people of color face.
About 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Barnes said a woman he recognized as a resident from down the street drove by his house as he was standing in the backyard. Barnes and his partner had moved into the home about three weeks ago, and said many other neighbors noticed their U-Haul truck in front of the home.
Barnes said he and the woman waved to each other, “as a normal neighbor would,” but noticed she looped back around to park in front of the house.
Barnes said that when he approached her to ask if she needed something, the woman said she knew who lived in the home and accused him of not being a resident there. The woman told him he shouldn’t be at the property, and called 911, he said.
That’s when Barnes went back into the house to retrieve his phone to film the interaction, and to tell his partner about the dispute, he said. Barnes said the woman’s demeanor changed when she saw his partner, who is white, come outside.
“I’m a Black man, and me being out there alone and for me to go inside to get my white boyfriend, she felt she was in the wrong I guess and that there was a misunderstanding,” Barnes said Friday. “I did get the sense of her trying to save face for herself and brush it under the rug.”
Shortly after, King County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived to respond “to reports of a potential residential burglary,” according to spokesperson Zoe Birkbeck.
“Before arriving on scene, dispatch advised responding deputies that the caller said that it was a misunderstanding however now a verbal disturbance had ensued,” Birkbeck said in an email.
In the video, Barnes’ partner can be heard accusing the woman of calling the cops because “she saw a Black man walk in the house.” The woman can be heard responding, “Oh my gosh this has nothing to do with race.”
Barnes, however, said “It was obviously a race thing.”
“I was standing in the backyard and she perceived me as some thug,” Barnes said. “I was wearing a hoodie because it’s cold that morning, a black hoodie, and she thought I shouldn’t be there, I was stealing from the house.”
In the video, two Sheriff’s Office cars can be seen pulling up to the house. After checking Barnes’ identification, deputies left after about five minutes.
No official report was taken, according to Birkbeck.
Barnes and his partner moved to Seattle from Texas, where he said he was frequently racially profiled. White people had called the cops on him a number of times when he was walking or running through certain neighborhoods, he said, an experience that always made him fearful of possible police interactions.
But this was the first time police has been called on him in Washington, he said.
“I didn’t think I’d have to experience this outside of the South,” Barnes said. “I left the South to make these things obsolete.”