A white man dubbed “Hallway Harry” on social media was caught on a video posted last Thursday harassing a Black neighbor in the lobby of their apartment building. The unidentified man, who claimed he’s a longtime resident, repeatedly questioned Chika Okafor about whether he lived in the building, located in an upscale Manhattan neighborhood. Chika refused to answer.
“It is none of his business. He doesn’t own the building. Just because he has lived there for 27 years, it doesn’t give him the right to interrogate other people” Okafor told the New York Times on Monday.
Okafor, who has lived in the apartment building since 2017, is a 29-year-old producer for Bleacher Report, a sports website. He and his friend, who is also Black, were waiting in the lobby of the apartment building on Dec. 19 for a taxi to arrive when his white neighbor approached.
The video of the encounter has been viewed more than 1.4 million times.
“I felt insulted. I felt violated. To me, his behavior suggested that, one, because we were people of color we were a threat to their safety, and, two, because we are people of color we can’t afford to live in that type of apartment complex,” Okafor said. “It’s the Upper East Side. It’s considered to be one of the wealthy parts of Manhattan. It’s a nice apartment.”
That incident was just the latest in far too many instances of white people harassing African Americans or calling the cops on them for doing nothing wrong.
In October, the Times listed 39 incidents that captured national attention since May 2018. They include a 12-year-old Black boy mowing a lawn in Cleveland, a uniformed Black firefighter doing his job in Oakland and a former Barack Obama aide moving into his new apartment in New York.
In a masterful piece of satire, a Times video promotes an “emergency hotline” for white women who are thinking about calling 911 on Black people doing routine activities—like sitting in a coffee shop or barbecuing in a park or trying to enter your own apartment building.
All jokes aside, there’s a serious problem of white people calling the cops on African-Americans for no good reason. We’ve given these women cute nicknames, like BBQ Becky and Permit Patty, but their irrational fear of Black people could end in tragedy for innocent Black folks.
Okafor reported the incident to the building manager who advised him to contact the police, but Okafor said he didn’t want to pursue legal action. Instead, he would accept an apology.
“I’m not going to change how I live my life based on this guy’s inappropriate behavior,” Okafor said.