Raleigh man 'humiliated' by RPD reflects on police bias and reform

Joel Brown Image
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
After being 'humiliated' by RPD, Raleigh man reflects on police bias and reform
Kazeem Oyeneyin, who had a humiliating encounter in his own home with RPD, reflects on police bias.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- When Raleigh's peaceful protests after the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd turned to destructive unrest downtown, Kazeem Oyeneyin said friends called on him to make a public plea for calm.

"I told them, I don't agree with anyone looting or rioting," Oyeneyin recalled. But he said never felt comfortable trying to subdue the community's rage -- because he's still coping with his own. "How can I explain to these people to stop doing wrong when the police haven't stopped doing wrong?"

It's been 10 months since Raleigh police responded to Oyeneyin's north Raleigh home in a predominantly white neighborhood. A friend, who'd slept overnight, unwittingly had tripped Oyeneyin's burglar alarm as he left. And when Raleigh police arrived, officers handcuffed and detained Oyeneyin, who was still in his boxer shorts, as a suspected burglar -- seemingly unwilling to believe it was his home.

After seven minutes, his home searched and additional officers who arrived at the scene, Oyeniyin was identified as the homeowner. A senior officer ordered the cops out.

Oyeniyin said he believes his treatment was fueled by the officers' implicit bias against him as a black man. When he saw the George Floyd tape, he felt a connection and a palpable fear.

"The only difference between me and all those other victims gunned down or killed -- like Breonna Taylor, killed in her own home; the only difference is I'm still alive," he said. "Every time I see a cop, I'm scared. "If I get pulled over, I'm going to stop. If (police) call, I'm gonna listen. But in the same token, don't ask me if I'm nervous. I am nervous because people are getting gunned down every other day."

Oyeniyin said he recently shared his harrowing false alarm incident with one of his white friends, who'd had a similar experience with a completely different outcome. Oyeniyin says the differences triggered some understanding.

"Cops came to (my friend's) door. He came outside. They asked him for his ID. He went back in and grabbed his ID and brought it out to them. And they took his name and left," Oyeniyin said. "(My friend) was like, until today, I never realized that I have privilege."

After 10 months, Oyeniyin said he's never received an apology from RPD. He's not expecting one. But he said if his incident represents some part of a greater struggle for racial justice, then it is not about revenge but about equality.