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Video of son begging father not to call 911 on black man for ‘trespassing’ goes viral

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SAN FRANCISCO — The incident was filmed and posted July 4 by software engineer Wesly Michel, and appears to take place at the entrance of a condo building on Van Ness Avenue, where Michel was waiting to visit with a friend. In the video, another man, accompanied by his young son, confronts Michel for his credentials to enter the building, and then calls police to report the “trespasser,” over the boy’s protestations.

By Monday night, the video had been viewed more than a million times on Facebook and more than two million times on Twitter, following a trend that began two years ago when a white woman was filmed calling the police on two black men barbecuing near Oakland’s Lake Merritt.

The Bay Area News Group was able to identify the man in the video as YouTube employee Christopher Cukor, through public records and social media profiles.

The recording begins after the confrontation has already started: as Michel records, Cukor — dressed in a YouTube-branded Patagonia jacket — asks him to “please call your friend on the call box and have them come down and get you.”

When Michel declines, Cukor says he will call the police, taking out his cell phone. Michel informs him he is being recorded, warning that he is going to be “the next person on TV.”

“You don’t need to threaten me,” Cukor responds. “You just need to get out the building.”

Cukor then appears to converse with a 911 dispatcher, describing a “trespasser” who “tailgated” into the building as the man was exiting, and was refusing to leave.

“He says he is waiting for a friend, and I asked him to dial on the call box and he said he wouldn’t,” he says into the phone. “So, I have no way of knowing if his friend is actually here.”

As the altercation escalates, Cukor’s son appears increasingly distressed, pleading with his father to “just go.”

“Daddy, please don’t,” the young boy says, through sobs. “It’s the better. I agree with him, let’s go. Daddy, I don’t like this, let’s go.”

Eventually, Michel’s friend arrives, and the 911 caller walks away from the building, telling police that the incident appears to resolved. The video ends mid-sentence as the two men continue to argue.

“Now you’re online forever,” Michel tells Cukor toward the end of the clip. The comment, which Michel makes several times throughout the video, is an apparent reference to other videos of white people making seemingly unnecessary 911 calls against people of color, including Oakland’s “BBQ Becky” and San Francisco’s “Permit Patty.”

Michel and Cukor did not immediately return calls for comment.

In a statement Monday, San Francisco police confirmed the incident, and said that officers had responded to the 911 call just after 4 p.m. on July 4, and “responded to the 1800 block of Van Ness Avenue regarding a verbal altercation.”

“Upon arrival, officers met with both parties. The reporting party stated an unknown male followed closely behind someone entering the building to gain access,” the statement said. “The officer made contact with the adult male who was trying to enter the building, that male stated that he was waiting for a friend. During the investigation it was determined by the officers that no crime had been committed. Both parties went their separate ways.”

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