Society

'Dear Neighbor Who Called The Police': Photographer Pens Open Letter To Woman Who Called Him Creepy

| by Reve Fisher
David UpdikeDavid Updike

A man has written an op-ed piece after reportedly being detained by six police officer on Sept. 23 near his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As it turned out, he hadn't committed a crime at all; rather, a female neighbor had reported him as a "creepy guy" taking picture in the park.

The man was David Updike, a Harvard-educated professor, writer, photographer and son of the revered author, John Updike, the Boston Globe reports.

The educator wrote an open letter on Oct. 13 to the woman who reported him to police and published it in the Cambridge Chronicle. In the letter, Updike explained that he has been living in that neighborhood for 30 years and has published a children's book with poetry and pictures, but always with permission from the parents or guardians.

He recounted the humiliation of being stopped by police and finding out that the alleged crime he committed was "having a camera in a public park." He also noted the "sadly ironic and, well, creepy" actions this woman performed in order to take a picture of him with her phone to show to police.

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"I know you were standing very near to me for the entire time I was on the bench, though I could not figure out why. Now I know: you were taking my picture," Updike wrote.

He advised this woman to simply interact with her fellow neighbors the next time she is suspicious of someone.

"This would save someone the humiliation and degradation of being stopped and held by the police, and might save the police from wasting their time when they could be doing something more useful," Updike added.

On the Cambridge Chronicle Facebook page, several users commented on the woman's behavior.

"It's the 'better safe than sorry' mentality...that mentality is fine, as long as it doesn't unfairly profile photographers and ruin their day," someone commented.

Another Facebook user mentioned similar incidents in California.

"Police in Oakland have started telling 911 callers that they won't respond to calls of black men walking," the man explained. "OPD is so sick of it they just don't come."

In 2009, the arrest of Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a Harvard professor, sparked national outrage and fostered conversation about racial profiling, The Washington Post reported. Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct after a neighbor called police, thinking he was a burglar when he struggled to open the door to his Cambridge home.

"Taking pictures in public parks isn't suspicious and being black in a mixed-race neighborhood isn't suspicious either," a Facebook comment stated.

Sources: The Cambridge Chronicle, Fox 2 News, The Boston Globe, Cambridge Chronicle on Facebook, The Washington Post

Photo credit: The Boston Globe, Paul Reynolds/Flickr