In recent weeks, stories about Black people having the police called on them for doing regular things are becoming uncomfortably common. Particularly in cases like this, where a Black real estate investor was simply doing his job.
In Memphis, Tennessee, Michael Hayes attempted to take pictures of a house he had been been contracted to fix up and sell to investors. Apparently, his presence in the neighborhood raised eyebrows. A White woman who lives in a nearby home approached him and asked him some questions. She then called the cops as if he was attempting to rob the home
Hayes caught the incident on camera earlier this month and shared it on his YouTube channel. Since then, it has garnered almost 3 million views as word began to spread across social media.
Along with written permission from the homeowner to be on the property, Hayes had the investment contract giving him permission to work on the home.
When an officer arrived at the residence, Hayes explained to him why he was there.
“Even if you are inside the residence, and have a perceived burglary, unless I’ve got a victim and owner, I can’t prosecute,” the officer says.
Hayes responds, “Do you mind telling her that because I really don’t want her behind me. I honestly feel threatened.”
He adds, “If there’s a way that I can do this, I’d like to file a complaint against her … She came out and threatened to call the police on me and was screaming and shouting.”
In the video, Hayes says a second officer arrived, as well as other nearby residents who were showing their support. One of the officers also called the homeowner who confirmed Hayes was supposed to be working on repairs.
An officer tells Hayes that if the woman continued to give him trouble to contact them, “And she will go to jail today.”
Police ask her to allow Hayes to do his job and gave her a warning.
The woman tells the officers that he can do his job — but then tells Hayes, “Hurry up, do it, and get out!”
“This is what we go through,” Hayes says in the video. “[I’m] a young Black man out here trying to do what’s right.”