A Groveland woman’s simple attempt to pick up a free bag of dog food offered on a community Facebook page led to her being followed by a man who verbally confronted her about her whereabouts, she told police.
In a video showing the interaction, Groveland resident Julia Santos, who is Black, is approached while in her vehicle by a white man in a silver BMW convertible, who pulls up alongside her.
Santos was on her way home, but instead of pulling into her driveway, she went down a side street, according to police. Santos’s home, and the home where she went to pick up the dog food, are just a mile apart.
At first, the man questions why she was in the neighborhood, and she tells him about the dog food.
“Quite frankly, I don’t feel safe right now,” she says.
“You don’t feel safe? I don’t feel safe with you driving around my neighborhood,” he says.
When she asks why, he says there’s “too many people.”
“Or is it because I’m Black? Is that why?” Santos questioned.
The man denies it and says, “I don’t know what color you are,” then asks Santos, “What color are you?”
“I just said I’m Black, and is that why you followed?” she says.
“That’s good, you’re Black,” he says. “Congratulations.”
He then says he doesn’t believe her. Then, someone off camera confronts the man, and he soon pulls away.
Police note that a resident came out of their home, and “told the man to leave.” The man was interviewed by authorities, and he could be facing criminal charges.
Groveland Police Chief Jeffrey Gillen said he’s served in the community for more than 30 years, and he knows many of the families that live there, including Santos’s.
“I am deeply disturbed by this situation,” he said in the release. “The fact that a resident of our town could face accusation and be followed around like a criminal should make everyone stop in their tracks and consider how we treat one another. Our job as police officers is to not only keep people safe but also feel safe in Groveland, and we will aggressively investigate this situation and do everything we can do to ensure it is not repeated.”