Man confronted by guards in Oakland says he was racially profiled

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- In a video, Kenya Wheeler recorded his interaction with three guards from the Alexan Webster apartment complex in Oakland.

In the video one of the guards can be heard asking: "Why do you picture the cars?" and Wheeler responded: "I took pictures of the bike racks," the guards responds: "No I see you."

According to Wheeler the guards thought he was "casing vehicles."

"I felt violated because I was thinking, I'm on a public street why would someone be so concerned about me taking pictures," said Wheeler.

Wheeler was taking photos of bike racks covered in colorful yarn. He is Chair of the Oakland Bicyclist and Pedestrian Commission and wanted to show the bike racks to his colleagues. Instead three guards came out to question him.

"It became clear, he had his handgun drawn. This is racial profiling and this is a racial act and the only reason why I'm being treated this way because I'm black," said Wheeler.

Once Oakland police arrived Wheeler was free to go home. In a statement Peter Jakel with the P.R. firm that represents the building responsible for the guards said to ABC7 news: "We share the concerns that Mr. Wheeler expressed, as he was on a public sidewalk and should not have been confronted at all. Effective immediately, we have changed security providers."

After this incident Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff says she'll be sending "an engagement team" to developments in the area. But, to Wheeler what happened to him Wednesday night has to be part of a broader conversation.

"Issues about private security, and how they are being trained needs to occur," Wheeler said. "But, also a broader conversation about how we are treating everyone in this country. Because everyone should be safe walking down the street, no matter their age, gender or ethnicity"
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