Posted on May 3, 2018

A Black Former White House Staffer Was Moving into a New Apartment. Someone Reported a Burglary.

Eli Rosenberg, Washington Post, May 1, 2018

Darren Martin moved to New York City this winter after years working for the Obama White House in Washington to take a job as an aide in the city’s government. After a couple of months crashing with friends and family, he finally found his own place on the Upper West Side.

The studio, on 106th Street near Columbus Avenue, fit the bill of what Martin, 29, was looking for: It was a decent deal in a good neighborhood just a couple of blocks from Central Park.

But about a half-hour into his move Friday night, police greeted him in his building’s lobby. A neighbor had called to report a potential break-in by someone who may have had a weapon, and about a half-dozen police officers stopped and questioned him as part of an investigation.

Martin said he felt like he had been racially profiled by whoever had made the original call.

“I don’t know if they watched me or saw me, through a peephole and decided to call the police and if they were in fact watching me,” Martin told The Washington Post. “What I do know is true is that they made a call, a very egregious call that I think was based on profiling.”


Martin said he was disappointed in the experience but ultimately not surprised.

The move began around 10:30 p.m. on Friday. Martin’s friend had driven his furniture up from Washington in a U-Haul truck, and because of that and a complicated array of circumstances, that was the only time they were able to unpack it.

“Out of necessity, I decided to bring things in, but if it was an opportunity for me to do it another time I would have,” Martin said. “You don’t want to put yourself in that situation where you’re doing everything right but because of how you look, it could get you arrested or worse. So you avoid those, if you’re trying to live your life.”


He let a trio of officers into the lobby and the three began to question him about what he was doing in the building, he said. He told them that he was a resident but said that he didn’t have his ID on him. The officers wouldn’t let him get it from his apartment upstairs on the fifth floor. Instead, about three more officers went up in and let themselves into his apartment, which was unlocked, he said. They found his friend,who had another engagement that evening, taking a shower, and eventually were satisfied that the two were telling the truth.


Later on that evening, another pair of officers arrived responding to a similar call; they told him that they were unaware that the issue had already been investigated, Martin said.

Martin said he feels lucky the situation ended well. At one point, he remembered to ask permission to look for his ID in his pants before putting his hands in his pockets.


{snip} Martin said, “At the end of the day when I take the suit off, I’m still a black man underneath. And it’s a daily reality.”