- Social media users are outraged after a video went viral showing a young boy begging his father not to call the police on a black man who was visiting a friend at a San Francisco apartment building.
- Christopher Cukor, the man who called the police, released a statement on Medium apologizing and saying he did not act based on race, but instead based on his past experiences with trespassers.
- However, Wesly Michel, the man who Cukor called the police on, said Cukor shouldn’t let his past trauma cloud the way he views and treats others.
Viral footage shows a young boy crying and begging his father not to call the police on a black man who says he was visiting a friend at a San Francisco apartment building.
Wesly Michel, a 35-year- old software engineer, posted the video on Facebook which shows the encounter he had with the father and son on July 4. In it, a white man can be heard telling Michel, “Can you please call your friend on the call box and have them come down and get you.”
“They don’t have to do that. You can just walk away,” Michel responds, which then prompts the man to call the police.
“You’re just going to be the next person on TV,” Michel says to the man, referring to past viral examples of black people having the police called on them while doing everyday activities like swimming, barbequing, or meeting at Starbucks.
“Just remember that, and you have your son with you,” Michel adds. “Dad don’t. Please go,” the son pleads with his father. “Daddy, go. It’s the better – I agree with him daddy,” the child continues.
“I don’t like this daddy. I don’t like this. Let’s go,” the boy says as he bursts into tears.
The man explains what he says happened to the operator on the other end of the call, saying Michel “tailgated through the door” as he left the building. He gives a description of Michel to the police saying he “appears to be African American.” Michel chimes in to help with the description, saying, “35, software engineer… pink polo shirt, and tennis shoes, jeans.”
Near the end of the video, Michel’s friend appears. “Told you. Let’s go now. Daddy, look what you’ve gotten us into. Let’s go,” the child says.
The man goes on to ask Michel’s friend to confirm whether or not she knows him. “He’s actually here with a resident,” he tells the 911 operator on the phone.
Michel brings his phone close to the man’s face, saying, “now you’re online forever.”
Man Responds in a Medium Post
The man in the footage was later identified as Christopher Cukor, an employee at YouTube. In the days since the footage was shared, social media users have been posting his name and other information about him, along with calls for him to be fired from the company.
On Tuesday, Cukor responded to the backlash in a Medium post titled “One Conversation, Two Histories – My perspective on an incident in a San Francisco doorway.” In it, he defended himself, but apologized to Michel for the incident.
“I noticed Wesly Michel caught the door and entered the building without using the callbox,” Cukor wrote. “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.”
Cukor goes on to say that when the incident turned confrontational, he realized he couldn’t resolve it himself and decided to call the police. He explained that his own personal history with trespassers is what prompted him to make that call, not Michel’s race.
“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,” Cukor wrote.
“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.”
Michel told CNN’s Don Lemon on Tuesday night that he was still hurt over the incident. While he said he was understanding of the trauma stemming from his father’s death, Michel said Cukor should not let it cloud his view of others.
“Personally, I am African-American and I have been stopped and harassed at stores and different locations and I have police officers asking me if I belong there or even in my apartment complex … people randomly telling me that I don’t belong at that location. But, I don’t let those experiences shape or define the way I see other people,” Michel said.
He went on to say that those experiences should be used as an opportunity for learning, adding, “My responsibility is not to make everyone around me feel comfortable. It is very important that people understand that. I should be able to walk around freely and not feel that I should constantly prove that I am not a threat to the people around me.”
Michel then posed a question for Cukor, asking whether he would have acted the same if he were white.
“It is important for people to understand when you call a police officer on an African-American, it is completely different than someone calling a police officer on someone else. To me that’s a death threat. … I can literally die from that altercation, and I would just simply be another hashtag in the news or on Twitter. It is important that people understand that,” Michel said.
Florida Breaks Its Record for New Daily COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations
The Sunshine State now accounts for 20% of all new COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Florida Becomes COVID Epicenter
Florida reported 10,207 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Sunday, marking its largest single-day count to date. The grim record comes just one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that the state had counted 21,683 new infections Friday, its highest record of daily cases since the start of the pandemic.
Florida has become the new epicenter of the most recent U.S. outbreaks driven by the delta variant. The state now accounts for one out of every five new cases, and the weekend numbers are highly significant because they surpass previous records that were logged before vaccines were readily available.
Notably, Florida’s vaccination rate is actually the exact same as the nationwide average of 49% fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times tracker. In fact, Florida’s rate is the highest among the top 10 states currently reporting the most COVID cases.
While Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has encouraged Florida residents to get vaccinated, he and the state’s legislature have also made it much harder for local officials to enforce protections to mitigate further spread.
DeSantis Bars Masking in Schools
On the same day that the state reported its highest cases ever, DeSantis signed an executive order banning school districts from requiring students to wear a mask when they go back to school later this month.
The move directly contradicts guidance issued by the CDC last week, which recommended that everyone inside K-12 schools wear a face covering.
DeSantis, for his part, has repeatedly claimed the spikes are part of “seasonal” increases driven by more people being indoors and air-conditioning systems circulating the virus. Still, he argued also Friday that he did not think masks were necessary to prevent children from transmitting COVID in the classroom, where they are inside with air conditioning.
At the same time, last week, Florida reported more than 21,000 infections among children younger than 19.
Florida is not the only state that has banned schools from requiring masks. In fact, many of the states suffering the biggest spikes have done the same, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — which all currently rank among the top 10 states with the highest per capita COVID cases.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (Axios)
Biden to Mandate COVID Vaccines for Federal Workers as CDC Changes Masking Guidance
News of the efforts came on the same day that the U.S. reported more than 100,000 new daily COVID cases for the first time since February.
Federal Vaccine Mandate
President Joe Biden will announce Thursday that all federal employees must get vaccinated against COVID-19 or consent to strict testing and other safety precautions, White House officials told reporters Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Biden said he was considering the requirement but did not provide any more information.
While the officials also said the details are still being hashed out, they did note that the policy would be similar to ones recently put in place by California and New York City, which respectively required state and city workers to get the jab or submit to regular testing.
Also on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their guidelines to recommend that Americans who live in areas “of substantial or high transmission,” as well as all students and teachers, wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status.
Delta Causes Spikes, But Vaccines Still Prove Effective
The renewed COVID mitigation efforts come as the delta variant is driving massive surges all over the country.
Coronavirus cases have quadrupled throughout July, jumping from a weekly average of 11,799 on the first day of the month to 63,248 on Tuesday, according to The New York Times tracker. Tuesday also saw new daily infections topping 100,000 for the first time since February, with more than 108,000 reported, per The Times.
While the vast majority of new infections are among people who have not been vaccinated, there have also been increasing reports of breakthrough cases in people who have received the jab.
Those cases, however, do not mean that the vaccines are not effective.
No vaccine prevents 100% of infections. Health officials have said time and time again that the jabs are intended to prevent severe disease and death, and they are doing just that.
According to the most recent data for July 19, the CDC reported that only 5,914 of the more than 161 million Americans who have gotten the vaccine were hospitalized or died from COVID-19 — a figure that represents 0.0036% of vaccinated people.
While safety precautions may be recommended for some people who have received the vaccine, many media narratives have overstated the role breakthrough cases play in the recent spikes. As New York Magazine explains, it is imperative to understand these new mask recommendations are not happening because the vaccine is not effective, but because not enough people are getting the vaccine.
“Because breakthrough infections have so often made the news due to their novelty, that can create a perception of more cases than are actually happening — particularly without more robust tracking of the actual cases to provide context,” the outlet wrote.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNBC)
Wisconsin Police Deny Planting Evidence in Viral Video, Release Their Own Body Cam Footage
The footage police released shows that during a search, officers found a corner tear from a plastic bag inside a backseat passenger’s pocket. An officer then discarded it into the car after determining that it was empty.
Viral Video Appears To Show Officer Planting Evidence
The Caledonia Police Department in Wisconsin has responded to a viral cell phone video that appears to show an officer planting a small plastic baggie inside of a car during a traffic stop.
The now-viral footage was posted to Facebook by a man who goes by GlockBoy Savoo.
The user, who also filmed the clip, wrote in his post’s caption that the officer did this “just to get a reason to search the car” and said the cop didn’t know he was being recorded by the passenger.
Police Shut Down Accusations With Their Own Footage
After that video spread across social media, many were outraged, calling the Caledonia police dirty for seemingly planting evidence. All the outrage eventually prompted the department to announce an investigation Saturday.
Within hours, the department provided an update, claiming that officers didn’t actually plant any evidence or do anything illegal.
Police shared a lengthy summary of events, along with two body camera clips from the incident. That statement explained that the driver of the vehicle was pulled over for going 63 in a 45mph zone.
Two passengers in the backseat who were then spotted without seatbelts were asked to identify themselves and step out of the car. During a search of one passenger’s pockets, an officer pulled out “an empty corner tear” from a plastic baggie.
Police claim the corner tear did not contain any illegal substances, though they said this type of packaging is a common method for holding illegal drugs.
In one body cam clip, an officer can be heard briefly questioning the backseat passenger about the baggie. Then, that piece of plastic gets handed off to different officers who also determined it as empty before the officer in the original viral video discarded it into the back of the car.
The officer can also be seen explaining where the plastic came from to the passenger recording him.
“Aye, bro you just threw that in here!” the front seat passenger says, as heard in his version of the events.
“Yeah, cause it was in his pocket and I don’t want to hold onto it. It’s on their body cam that they took it off of him…I’m telling you where it came from, so. It’s an empty baggie at the moment too, so,” the officer replies.
The department went on to explain that while it would discourage officers from discarding items into a citizen’s car, this footage proves that evidence was not planted.
Authorities also noted that no arrests were made in this incident and the driver was the only one issued a citation for speeding. The statement added that since four officers were present at the scene, police have more than six hours of footage to review but they promised to release the footage in full in the near future.