Oakland community holds giant cook-out in protest at racist 'BBQ Becky'

Oakland community holds giant cook-out in protest at racist 'BBQ Becky'

Families in Oakland, California, gathered this weekend for a community barbecue in the same spot where a woman reported a  group of black people to the police for using a charcoal grill.

A post from Twitter user Carvell showed what appeared to be hundreds of people enjoying a peaceful afternoon in the sun at Lake Merritt, with the caption: "two weeks ago today a white woman tried to call the police on about eight black folks barbecuing. Today in that same spot this was the scene."

The pre-planned event - which was called BBQing While Black - was a protest against a woman who reported local residents Kenzie Smith and Onsayo Abram to the police for using a charcoal grill in a non-charcoal area, staying on the line to police and hovering around the group for two hours before officers finally arrived.

In a video of the incident which was posted to YouTube and has since gone viral, the woman - who has been dubbed #BBQBecky by the internet - is shown discussing the use of charcoal and collapses into tears when the police do arrive, claiming that the group had been harassing her.

Another Oakland resident, Michelle Snider, is heard asking the woman if she was only calling the police because the people using the BBQ were black. While she promptly denied this was the case, the incident has still sparked a national debate over inherent racism.

Police did not file any charges against the group.

Sunday's mass cook-out began in the late morning and featured food, music and performances from various speakers. Organisers said that it was designed to celebrate the community, rather than letting people resort to fighting "hate with hate". In order not to cause any issues, attendees were asked to bring propane grills or pre-prepared food.

In a reversal of the previous situation, local cops did attend - but only to divert traffic so that more people could enjoy themselves.

The success of the protest was celebrated by many social media users, who praised organisers for their creativity and said that it sent a strong message of inclusivity. Some even said that, although she certainly didn't mean to, #BBQBecky has brought the whole community even closer together.

Earlier in the week, social media users took their revenge by photoshopping the woman in question - and her phone - into pivotal moments in African-American history, including Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech and Rosa Parks' bus protest.