A fledgling paperboy working alongside his mother in suburban Columbus, Ohio, came face-to-face with a cop after a neighbor thought he was up to no good.
The nosy neighbor spied the 12-year-old boy, who is black, hop out of a van and walk up to a handful of Upper Arlington homes Friday. She initially assumed he was delivering newspapers, she told authorities, but soon thought otherwise.
"I noticed they were walking up to houses with nothing-in-hand and one of them came back with something," the 911 caller said, according to WSYX-TV. “It seemed kind of suspicious.”
The mother explained to the officer dispatched to check on her youngest son, Uriah Sharp, delivered his papers to the wrong home and was picking them up. The officer “quickly determined” that’s exactly what the Sharps were doing, according to police.
In a Facebook post, Uriah's mother, Brandie Sharp, said she was teaching her sons how to work.
"First day of paper route and we are pulled over by the police," Sharp wrote. "Sad I cant even teach my son the value of working without someone whispering and looking at us out the side of their eye perhaps because we DON'T 'look like a person that belongs in their neighborhood.'"
She said she would change their paper route to avoid the neighborhood.
Over the weekend, the police department issued a statement explaining the response in an attempt to squash worries of racial bias.
“We have seen some conversations on Facebook relative to a Police response to a report of suspicious activity that turned out to be completely benign,” officials wrote.
The Sharp’s encounter with police is no isolated incident A number of cases of white people calling the cops on people of color for mundane activities have made headlines of late. Most recently, police have confronted Bob Marley's granddaughter for staying at a Rialto, Calif., Airbnb, a Yale student taking a nap at her student lounge and three black women golfing in Pennsylvania.