Man in Lake Merritt BBQ fiasco nominated for Oakland Parks and Rec position

Bay Area

The man who was the target of a 911 call for barbecuing with his family in an East Bay Park is now being recommended to serve on that city’s parks and recreation advisory committee.

On Thursday, KRON4 spoke with the city leader who made the recommendation.

KRON4’s Haaziq Madyun also has the exclusive reaction from the man’s wife who recorded the video of that 911 call.

“I have submitted a recommendation of Mr. Kenzie Smith to serve on the Oakland Park and Recreation Advisory Commission to help make the rules that governs how our parks are used and make sure that they are fair and clear,” Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan said.

The man who thought he was just going to Lake Merritt in Oakland to have a barbecue with his family, like he has done for years, had a white woman calls the police on him for having the barbecue in the wrong location. He is now being recommended to help the city solve some of the problems associated with doing that very thing.

Kaplan explains why she thinks Smith is the right guy at the right time to fill the vacant parks and rec position.

“With this incident that has caused Oakland to be in the national media for a negative situation of people being racially profiled while barbecuing, it seems important that we take a positive and proactive step, and Mr. Kenzie Smith, the one on whom the police were called, expressed an interest in serving the public in volunteering to be part of this board to help make sure we handle these issues better in the future,” Kaplan said.

The 37-year-old Smith is a life-long Oakland resident. He is the founder of Dope Era Magazine and has been involved in this community for years, says his wife Michelle Snider.


“He knows by experience how it is to have issues just enjoying being at the park, and he really cares about the community and also kids. He has talked about having an influence for the future,” said Michelle Snider, who is Kenzie Smith’s wife.

Those are her thoughts on the woman now known as BBQ Becky seen in the infamous viral video calling the police, who has become a national symbol for reporting black people doing innocuous things.

“It’s hard because I feel she was trying to ruin our lives in a sense, because she was trying to criminalize my husband and his friend and he is currently, you know, about to get a job, so do I really feel sorry for her? No!” Snider said. “I wish she would take responsibility for what she did. If she just came out and said this is my stance on this, then maybe the public would lighten up on her. I do hope no harm comes to her. I have been worried in that sense.”

Smith’s nomination has to go through at least one administrative procedural hearing before coming to the full city council for a vote which would not happen for at least a month from right now.

“I haven’t heard from her directly, but as to those issues, that’s part of why I think we need to make sure the rules are clear and fair,” Kaplan said. “We don’t want to put anyone in the situation that creates the potential for this type of conflict, and we do need both to be more respectful inner personally but also to have rules that are clear and fair–and that’s part of what I am hoping comes out of the parks commission.”



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