OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - The tension between police and minority communities is undoubtedly palpable with documented police shootings of black men spreading on social media and the sniper shootings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
But what happens when police and communities of color come together? That’s something special that happened in the backyard of a home in the heart of East Oakland when police played a pickup basketball game with some neighborhood kids.
KTVU’s Henry Lee says it started after one of the kids asked the officers if they’d be interested in playing ball.
15-year-old Malik McFarlane who loves playing basketball, saw a group of Oakland Housing Authority police officers outside his home. He issued them with the challenge.
“I just asked them if they played,” said Malik.
“Of course the officers jumped at that opportunity, said Carel Duplessis, Oakland Housing Authority Police Chief.
The video of them playing together in the kids’ grandmother’s backyard ended up on Facebook.
“I was trying to beat them, that’s it,” said 16-year-old Lee Hemmingway.
Malik said the officers lost “horribly bad”.
KTVU caught up with Malik, his cousin Lee and the officers for a rematch.
Police officers with the Housing Authority said they do this kind of thing quite often without much attention from the public.
“I’m not surprised at all that the officers went in the back and played with the kids. I am also not surprised that as a result of the play that the officers actually lost to the kids,” Duplessis said.
The kids and cops say they’ve built solid relationships with each other through hoops. They say this is especially important now with recent tensions across the nation over killings of and by police.
“Later on they can remember back in the day when we played ball or whatnot and be like, ‘Hey, you know what? Those were cool cops’,” said officer Brauli Rodriguez
Lee said it was a good move on the cops’ part and that “more officers should probably do that”.
And more officers did do just that. Officer Phillip Chow worked up a sweat and showed off some fancy moves.
“This is about having fun and interacting with the community, to show that we’re normal people and I need to work on my basketball skills,” said Officer Chow.