A tense confrontation captured on video in Atlanta shows a white woman repeatedly questioning a Black UPS employee about his “suspicious” behaviour in her neighbourhood, in an incident that has sparked accusations of racism.
UPS employee Nedrick Peters II, 18, recorded two clips of his confrontation with the woman and originally posted them on Instagram Wednesday. Peters was delivering packages for UPS as a seasonal worker on Tuesday when the incident occurred, he told Storyful.
The clips do not show the beginning or end of the encounter, but they do show the woman repeatedly telling Peters that she’s “suspicious” and “nervous” about him. She also threatens to call police and UPS to report him.
The woman initially asks Peters for his personal information so she can “check up” on him. “I don’t understand why you’re walking around this neighbourhood with a bunch of packages on a dolly,” she says.
“What?” Peters says, sounding incredulous. He adds that she’s “bothering” him, and repeats her words back to her.
“This is crazy,” he says.
“I want to complain to UPS that you’re looking very suspicious and making me nervous,” she tells Peters. “I live in this home,” she adds, pointing to a nearby house. “My car has already been broken into twice, and guess what? It’s a really big thing in this neighbourhood for people to walk down the street for vandalism.”
The unidentified woman repeatedly demands to know Peters’ name, but he refuses to comply.
“Then we’re going to stand here for a while, aren’t we?” she says. “I’ll be following you until I get UPS on the phone.”
In the second clip, the woman again questions what Peters is doing in her neighbourhood.
“You look very suspicious,” she says. “I’m trying to tell you you need to at least be able to tell people who you work for.”
Peters responds by pointing out his UPS uniform.
“I have the jacket on,” he says. “I work for UPS.”
Peters flips the camera around at one point to show that he is wearing a clearly marked jacket with the UPS logo on it. He also turns the camera toward a dolly full of packages that he’s been pulling along behind him.
“She’s smoking crack,” Peters says, in a joking attempt to laugh off her unreasonable questions.
The clip ends with another UPS worker, who is white, entering the frame.
“Really, honestly, he’s scaring me, making me think he’s going to kill me,” she tells the other employee.
The employee tells the woman that he works with Peters.
“He didn’t let me know that,” the woman says. “And he was just being a jerk, cussing me out.”
UPS told Storyful it’s aware of the video and that it’s investigating.
“We’ll defer comment until we are able to talk with the involved parties,” the company said in a statement.
The video has sparked outrage online, particularly on Twitter, where a tweet containing the video has been watched nearly seven million times.
Several users criticized the woman’s behaviour, noting that she pointed out her house and spent a lot of time standing close to what she allegedly feared was a criminal.
“She wasn’t nervous nor scared,” one user said. “She was entertaining herself messing with the Black mailman.”
Others pointed out that the angry woman’s story and attitude changed once a white UPS employee showed up.
“White guy walks over in a UPS uniform and all of a sudden, it’s really UPS,” tweeted user @p_stephiapres. “Then it’s time to start telling (lying) on the black guy who was just doing his job. Why does she think the white guy is his superior?”
Several other users of colour said they’d faced similar experiences. They also applauded Peters for recording the incident rather than shouting back at the woman.
The woman in the video has not yet been identified.