Black Business Owner Claims San Francisco Police Harassed Him While Opening His Store

KCBS Radio Morning News
July 23, 2018 - 11:47 am

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS Radio) - A black business owner was questioned by police officers as he opened his Mission District store for the day.

The Bay Area has seen a spate of recent incidents in which people of color have been reported to police simply for carrying out mundane activities.

Viktor Stevenson said he was a bit dismayed when four officers showed up last Thursday at his store Gourmonade and started hassling him. Someone in the neighborhood had apparently called the police when they saw him opening his doors. Stevenson said the officers first asked him to take his hand out of his pocket: "I was like 'sure, no problem.' I extended my arm all the way out - like an eagle - and dropped it, to exaggerate there's no threat here, nothing to worry about." 

The officers then asked Stevenson for his identification. "While he's running it," Stevenson said, "I asked another officer ‘Why are you guys still runnning my information when I just showed you this was my place of business?’ The officer went on to say that some people say they are who they aren't, they ran it, it came back and it was clear. The sad part is, had I not been potentially a business owner, I damn sure would have been on the ground with cuffs on my hands, and who knows what else."

Customers were not happy to hear about what happened. One told KCBS Radio that it was disgusting, upsetting and embarassing. Another said that Stevenson is "one of the best dudes I know, and to have something like this happen is terrible."

Stevenson said this isn't the first time he's had a negative encounter with police. He said last year, he was thrown on the ground and handcuffed after making an illegal turn.

But in this case, Stevenson said, "who's at fault, who's the real criminal here, is the person that called the police when I'm just sitting chilling at my store, for no reason."  

Stevenson's store Gourmonade was in the news earlier this month, when it was reported that he was selling lemonade for $8 a glass

Stevenson's expereince is similar to other racially-charged encounters. In May, a white woman called police after coming across a group of black people barbecuing at Oakland's Lake Merritt. In June, a white woman called police on an eight year old African-American girl who was selling water outside her home in San Francisco.  

San Francisco police officials have not responded to KCBS Radio’s inquiries.