The woman at the center of a video who called police on two black men barbecuing in Oakland’s Lake Merritt has become a meme called “BBQ Becky.”
She has sparked the hashtags, #BBQingWhileBlack and #CookingOutWhileBlack, been Photoshopped in black history moments (including MLK’s famous “I have a Dream” speech) and even made an "appearance" in a Black Panther photo.
And on Saturday night, "SNL" parodied her in its season finale, with Aidy Bryant making an appearance spoofing her in black sunglasses and a hoodie during “Weekend Update” as well as the ending credits.
Although the woman’s name still remains unknown, the internet has dubbed her “BBQ Becky.”
Hundreds of people gathered for a weekend cookout in Oakland, California, dubbed “BBQing While Black” in the latest response to the woman’s now infamous call to police to report African Americans barbecuing at a public park.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the festival-like event Sunday on the shores of Lake Merritt was organized to rally against racism. Music played and vendors cooked up racks of ribs, sausages and chicken.
Three Sundays earlier at the same site, the unidentified woman called 911 to report a family using a charcoal barbecue.
A video posted on social media by onlooker Michelle Dione sparked a national conversation about racism.
The woman said she called the police to report an African-American man who was using a charcoal grill in an area where they are not allowed.
"They enacted rules for a reason and they should be followed," she can be heard saying in the video.
On May 15, protesters gathered outside City Hall Thursday to grill Oakland City Council over what they say is the over-policing of African-Americans in the East Bay.
"Think before you call police," Councilmember Abel Guillen — whose district includes a part of Lake Merritt — tweeted in response to the video. "Remember we are all neighbors in Oakland."
"We can’t say what’s in the women’s heart but we do know when the police are used," said community organizer Carol Fiffe. "Oftentimes when African-American people are involved, it leads to an escalation of police force."
Protesters said people who use 911 as a tool to discriminate need to be held accountable.
Demonstrators said the barbecue outside of City Hall held a symbolic message not just for Oakland, but for the county.
"We’ve seen it in Starbucks, we’ve seen it in the Waffle House in places all across the country and so in Oakland, I’m proud of our city that is saying not here," Fiffe said.
Oakland Councilmember At-Large, Rebecca Kaplan issued a statement regarding the Lake Merritt controversy:
"Dear White People, please think carefully before calling the police, and be aware of the potential for issues of racial privilege and prejudice," she wrote. "If there is a gun involved or imminent risk of harm, then it is reasonable to call the police. But for minor community disagreements, we need to be careful and consider our actions before resorting to calling for an armed police response. We need our police to be able to focus on pursuing and solving serious violent crimes. On an interpersonal level, we should seek to reduce, not escalate, tensions. And to maintain and improve our awareness of the widespread racial disparities in law enforcement response, which continue to need to be remedied."