Sean McDonald 
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Re: “OPD Responds to Noise Complaints by White Man Against Black Drummers at Lake Merritt, Sparks Concerns About Racial Profiling

I am the “White Resident” who called Oakland Police on the “Black and Latino” drummers at Lake Merritt. This is my formal rebuttal to the “report” posted in the East Bay Express by Sam Levin:

On the night of September 27th at around 8:30 PM and well into the darkness of night, I approached a group of people who were drumming in the park at Lake Merritt. The drumming was the 2nd or 3rd consecutive night of drumming, drumming that didn’t start until after park hours and continued well into the night past 11pm. This event occurred on a Sunday night when the people of my neighborhood are preparing for the workweek.

There had been multiple noise complaint calls made by members of the neighborhood, and those calls were placed over a period of hours because of the constant noise. We all know that Oakland Police are horribly undermanned and confronting a number of operational and community issues so it came as no surprise that Police were initially unable to respond to the complaints.

Take into account that the park where this incident occurred has rules based on Oakland city ordinances. Two of those rules are: The park is closed from dusk to dawn and if you want to play amplified music in the park during open hours, you must get a permit from the city. These ordinances exist so that the residents of this community can compromise with the people who want to come and enjoy the lake, and everyone can benefit from the beauty that is Lake Merritt. Problems occur when certain groups consistently disregard these rules to the detriment of the people living in that community, and that is exactly the case with this incident.

Upon approaching the group I asked no less than two people (a woman: dark hair, olive complexion, pretty, and a man: very tall, light complexion, wearing a red sweatshirt. These facts are important), who was in charge of the group and who could I speak to about the noise. The tall man in the red sweatshirt pointed to one of the drummers playing. I attempted to get his attention by waiving my hands in front of him in a way that conveyed that I wanted to speak to him and could he stop, at which point he looked right in my eyes, smiled in a dismissive fashion, and increased the volume and intensity of his drumming.

This is when I reached out and put my hands on his drumsticks to stop the playing (the fact that I never made contact with any person, and only placed my hands on his drumsticks was supported by statements from people in the group during the incident, to police, and on Twitter days after). Immediately the entire group surrounded me, started yelling at me, and I was shoved by three different people. The reason only two citations were written is because the third person left the scene before I could ID him for police.

As the group surrounded me and shoved me, they hurled a number of white related racial slurs at me, I began to back up, telling the group that if they didn’t want to stop drumming, I would just call the police. The intensity of the group increased dramatically at this point and the comments of “Gentrifier” and “Go back to Boston” (I was born in Torrance, CA and grew up in Inglewood, but whatever..), among other comments were made. I began to back up and retreat towards my residence at which point I was followed for some time by two women and a man. The man, clearly pursuing me to continue the interaction and continuing to accuse me of gentrification was asking me how long I had lived in Oakland, etc. in a very confrontational manner. Keep in mind this is all before Police were on the scene.

I called the police because my neighbors and I wanted the music to stop but I was perfectly willing to drop the whole incident, and even offered not to press charges on the two who I id’d for assaulting me, if the group would do the same and just go home. The gentleman who accused me of battery decided that he would like to continue with legal action, further escalating the event. The responding officer can verify that I offered to drop all charges.
The group in question will say that I was the belligerent one. That I basically ran up and started yelling and attacking the drummers. To know if this is true, find the tall man in the red sweatshirt. If he is a man of integrity, he will tell you that I made multiple inquiries as to who was in charge and who I could speak to about the noise before this incident escalated. I challenge you, man in the red sweatshirt, to be a man of integrity and honesty and come forward with the truth.

This is when my involvement in the incident ended and I went back to my residence. It is my understanding that the group’s behavior escalated to a point where additional back up officers had to be called to deal with them but as I was not there, I can make no statements about what happened.

What I do know is that the next day, I am being harassed and intimidated on twitter in a coordinated attack by this group, most of which are using pseudonyms or cryptic accounts. I’ve filed a police report on this already. Now I understand that there is another coordinated effort on social media to expose my identity and harass me, by a group of people who have consistently displayed the tendency to escalate their behavior in a dangerous way.

How this group was able to acquire and release my name in a coordinated attempt to defame my character, harass me, intimidate me, and lob false accusations of racism or privilege at me, which is totally against the law, is beyond me but once again I ask: Is this the type of behavior that we want in our community? Remember, I’m still your neighbor who attempted to talk to you about the noise first.

While the people involved in this incident will call me names and accuse me of racism and white privilege, I’d like them to know that I was born in Torrance, CA in a broken home to an unskilled mother where I came home to eviction notices almost every month. Until my early teens I grew up, 5 people in a 2 bedroom apartment in Inglewood, CA. I scrubbed toilets in a manufacturing plant and was a deckhand (a filthy, dangerous, tough job) in order to pay for college. I’ve spent years donating time and thousands of dollars of my own money to children of the Bay Area as a volunteer sports coach and working directly with a non-profit for at risk kids. If that sounds like white privilege, ok. I guess you’re right.

I ask you though: Who is it that is making statements about someone based on the color of their skin, you or me? Who is it that is continually using their own disregard for the members of this community, and their own bad behavior, to advance a false agenda of over policing and racism? Who?

This is only about being a good neighbor, and nothing more.

My name is Sean McDonald. I’m not hiding from anyone. I’m your neighbor and I promise that my lifestyle will never negatively impact that of my neighbors or community. Can you say the same? If so, come say hello.

Posted by Sean McDonald on 10/02/2015 at 11:14 AM

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