Oakland Man Says Apartment Security Racially Profiled Him

Bike commission chairman, who was photographing bike racks, says one guard drew his gun

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An East Bay urban planner was confronted by security guards while taking pictures of bike racks in front of a new Oakland apartment building.

Kenya Wheeler, who happens to be African-American, says one of the guards pulled out his gun for no reason. Wheeler said fear prompted him to start videotaping the encounter outside the Alexan Webster apartment building in downtown Oakland.

"I’m the chairman of Oakland’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Commission," Wheeler said in the video. "I was taking photos of bike racks."

His actions got the attention of the guards. One of them accused Wheeler of taking photos of cars, even though he told them he was taking pictures of the bike racks. Wheeler said the guard insisted on calling police, and he was fine with that because he feared for his safety.

"I don’t know if it was because he saw me with my umbrella and my phone; he pulled a gun out of his holster," Wheeler said.

The guard held the weapon at his side.

"He was getting aggressive," Wheeler said.

In the video, he tells the guard, "You’re not a police officer; you don’t have the right to detain me."

Building management apparently agreed with Wheeler in a statement.

"We share the concerns of the individual on a public sidewalk," the statement read. "He should not have been confronted. Effectively immediately, we have changed our security provider."

Wheeler added: "It’s very unfortunate that we’re seeing these kinds of incidents occur where people are being racially profiled because of the color of your skin."

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