Nomy Lamm shared Lisa Ganser's post.

today i met up with a group of mostly white activists in a Black neighborhood where a white neighbor has been calling the police (and pulling other types of authorities into disputes with her neighbors.) our intention was to ask this white woman, in a friendly and serious way, not to call the police on Black people.

we met early evening at the park down the street. a number of participants went around the block chalking hearts and names of Loved Ones Lost. we practiced our song at the park and a neighbor said yeah, sounds pretty good, you gotta get the timing right. we worked on that and then headed over to the white neighbor's house. we sang our song a few times, and tried ringing her doorbell. a family next door stood on the steps watching us. the mom was holding back her little kids, keeping them on the porch. i waved and smiled, and she smiled. they seemed nervous but curious.

the white neighbor did not appear to be home. dogs were barking. we read aloud the names and stories of Black people who have been killed by police. we sent love. we sang the song a few more times. we put the song lyrics and some info about Oakland police shootings on her door, and just as we were wandering off down the stree, the white neighbor lady came home. i was like 'that's her! that's her! should we do it?' we rallied back together and sang, and she at first seemed almost happy about it, she was like 'i agree with you, but why me?' that's when lisa said 'do you remember me?' and she realized who we were there on behalf of.

it is intense to see a person being called on their shit yelling and screaming such predictable, scripted defenses, how she is such a good person, she gives food to homeless people, all her neighbors love her, her life was being threatened, not all cops come with their guns drawn, she doesn't care if you're black, white or chinese... etc. she also said their dog had almost bitten her arm completely off, in which case she is a miraculous healer because there were no scars or anything.

one of us very diligently and kindly kept trying to tell the white neighbor about mediation resources, as she stomped away, saying 'who am i supposed to call? nobody comes to save me!' several of us were calling 'please! wait! listen! we're coming from a place of love!' and she slammed the door.

somewhere in the middle of all this, a conversation started with the neighbor next door on the porch with her kids, and it became known that she also was having problems with this particular white neighbor, that she is scared of her. a bilingual spanish speaker in our group stepped forward to talk with her and translate. it turns out the white lady reported this neighbor to her landlord for something having to do with her dogs, and an eviction process has been started. this neighbor was given the contact info for Causa Justa, and will be followed up with with more resources.

back at the park we debriefed. we felt good about it, a little rattled, but mostly positive. we talked about following up with the white neighbor, either in person or in a letter. a member of our group reminded us that this woman is dangerous to her brown and black neighbors, she is litigious, and we need to make sure not to make anything worse for them. two people offered to write a letter thanking the neighbor for hearing us, and offering resources for mediation and conflict resolution. we also talked about using our time and energy to support the neighbor who is facing possible eviction. members of this group will stay in contact with her to see what she needs.

i am sharing all of this because i want to talk more about how we call in difficult members of our communities. specifically i'm curious about how white people work with problematic white people, how do we 'reel in our cousins' ? and how do we stop violence before it happens?

Lisa Ganser

Listen White Neighbor! An Action of Love and Accountability.

Black People Killed by Police After Someone Called 911 on them:

Darnisha Harris: 16-year-old Black teenager Darnisha Harris was shot and killed by a Louisiana police officer on December 2, 2012, after a neighbor called the police. Witnesses said a fight had broken out, and as police were arriving on the scene, Darnisha got into her car and tried to drive away. The officer said Darnisha was driving erratically before he opened fire. Darnisha is survived by her mother, father, three brothers, one sister, maternal grandmother, one niece, two nephews, aunts, uncles, and other relatives and friends.

Kris Jackson: 22 year old mixed race/Black freckle-faced Kris Jackson was staying at a Lake Tahoe motel with his girlfriend on June 15, 2015 when they got in an argument, and a neighbor called the police. When he heard the cops arrive, he tried to escape out the bathroom window. To the horror of his partner, within minutes of the police arriving on the scene Kris was shot while hanging out of the bathroom window, posing no threat to the officer or anyone else. He later died in the hospital as a result of his injuries. His partner and family are still in shock, and greatly miss him.

Renisha McBride: 19-year-old Renisha McBride survived a car accident in the early morning hours of November 2, 2013. Approximately 3 hours later, she walked up to a house looking for help about a mile away from the crash, in Dearborn Heights, outside Detroit. The homeowner Theodore Wafer shot Renisha, a Black woman, in the face with a shotgun, killing her. He then found his cell phone and dialed 911. He said he believed her to be a potential intruder. Speaking at Wafer’s sentencing trial, Renisha’s sister Jasmine said, “Losing my sister was one of the most devastating times of my life."

Tamir Rice: Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black child, was murdered on November 22, 2014, after a neighbor called the police reporting a "black male sitting on a swing and pointing a gun at people" in a city park. The park was across the street from Tamir house, and he was playing with a toy gun. Two officers arrived and before the car even stopped, one of them fired two shots, hitting Tamir once in the torso. The officers did not administer any first aid to the child. His 14-year old sister, Tajai Rice, attempted to reach him after he was shot but could not get to him. She was brutally assaulted by an officer, thrown on the ground, handcuffed, and put in the back of the police car, right next to his body. Tamir died the following day.

John Crawford III: John Crawford, age 22, was shopping while Black at a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio on August 5 2014, holding an item that they sell there, a toy BB gun. A white shopper, Ronald Ritchie, called 911. Ritchie claimed that John was waving the gun at children and that he thought he was going to rob the place or shoot somebody (he has since recanted his statement). Officer Sean Williams opened fire on Crawford almost immediately upon encountering him, hitting him in the torso and arm. John died later that day from his wounds, leaving behind loving family including his two children.

Dante Parker: In August of 2014, Black father Dante Parker was riding his bike in Victorville, CA, in the hot sun, and suffered a heat stroke. He went to the home of a white woman and knocked on her door looking for help. She called the police, rendering him a "suspect." Police arrived and tasered him to death. Dante was an amazing and loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend, whose life ended much too soon. He has five children who will now grow up without their dad.

Jonathan Ferrell: 24 year old Jonathan Ferrell, a Black man, had just lived through a car accident, when he knocked on someone's door asking for help at around 2:30am on September 14, 2013. The woman who lived there called 911 and said someone was breaking into her house. When the cops arrived, they fired approximately 12 shots, 10 hitting and killing Jonathan. Speaking to reporters after hearing that the charges are dropped against the cop who killed her son, Jonathan’s mother Georgia Ferrell said “Continue to march, continue to show them that we mean business, that we will not roll over and play dead.”

Tony Robinson: 19 year old Tony Robinson, of Madison, Wisconsin was allegedly running in and out of traffic when someone called 911. When police officer Matt Kenny arrived on the scene, gun drawn, he said he heard "incoherent yelling and screaming." He fired seven shots, putting bullets into Tony's head and torso, fatally wounding the teenager. Tony's mom, Andrea Irwin, shared the following after hearing the officer won’t face charges: “I’m heartbroken, angry, more than upset, almost something I can’t describe right now.” The family has since moved from their home, after a news station released their address and they began receiving death threats.

Yuvette Henderson: 37 year old Yuvette Henderson was shot and killed by Emeryville PD on February 3rd, 2015 after a Home Depot employee called the police on her. She was accused of shoplifting, assaulted by Home Depot security, ran from the store, and was gunned down by Emeryville PD using an AR-15 (military grade weapon). Yuvette left behind a devastated family, including four children and grandchildren. -- Listen White Neighbor (written by nomy lamm)

Senaida Poole

Nomy, what a beautiful write up. Can I share this?

Nomy Lamm

yes of course xo

Red Schmarpman

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this

Alanna Kelly

^yes. Stunning action.

Jennifer Smedley

I love your song, and this post is beautiful too. The stories are so heartbreaking xx

Peter Dakota Molof

Thank you so much for the report back and for helping to make this happen!

Karen Erlichman

Kol hakavod to you, dear Nomy.

Cherry Galette

Thank you heart emoticon

Deb Malkin

Thank you for this stunning action and report back. I hope the neighbors feel supported more. I hope that woman thinks more about her actions and impact on her neighbors.

Heart Wildstar

Y'all are amazing. Thank you

Vanessa Hays

I'm asking similar questions after failing to effectively address racism in my community. Sending you solidarity and admiration.

Zena Hartung

This is hard and very delicate work. Thanks for the story, Nomy.

Susan Surface

Jenny Dubnau Caroline Woolard Tamara Zahaykevich Brigette Blood Imani Henry Dean Jackson

Susan Surface

heart emoticon

Roan Boucher

Thank you for sharing this story in such thoughtful detail! Whether or not this one person's behavior will change, I think these acts of solidarity and compassion have positive ripple effects - this sounds so worthwhile and beautiful.

Andras Jones

I really appreciate the subtle and profound difference between "calling out" and "calling in".

Jee Bee

You guys are so awesome. I wish I'd been there (I'm in Vegas) - however I could certainly have done no better than you guys. Yall did great. Ok off the top of my head - for next step - I'm putting on my "SURJ" (showing up for racial justice) hat. Maybe...See More

Nomy Lamm

Kitty Stryker tagging you since you had offered to write the draft, some ideas about framing the letter to the neighbor... I think saying her heart is in the right place is a very generous and potentially helpful statement...

Jeanette Spalding

This is great

Megan Hanson

Thank you for sharing your experience... What a powerful read! You inspire me Nomi, and it has motivated me to be more active in my community. I am now currently in the process of bringing Diversity and Inclusion to my workplace, and meet with a few mo...See More

Danielle Rhéaume

Amazing. I have experienced and seen how police will unnecessarily escalate violence against people who they are prejudiced against due to a phone call made by someone else. This problem is rampant. Thank you for working to make it stop. to all of you.

Nomy Lamm

there is someone in Tacoma who actually needs an intervention like this. Megan Hanson maybe you'd want to be a part of that?

Kevin Simmonds

Well, for the moment, news like this saves me from the abyss. Thank you for doing what seems impossible for many many white people.

Justin DeCastro

Grrrr8 work Nomy!

Lukas Blakk

Thank you for this story of how it went and thank you for your time and creativity allied to this struggle

Post a comment

Private comment




Search form
Latest Journals
Latest comments
Monthly archive
Friend Request Form

Want to be friends with this user.