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A Black Man Wore Socks in the Pool. After Calling Police on Him, a Manager Got Fired.

A white manager of a Memphis, Tennessee, apartment complex was fired after she called police on a black man wearing socks in the pool on the Fourth of July.

Posted Updated

Sarah Mervosh
, New York Times

A white manager of a Memphis, Tennessee, apartment complex was fired after she called police on a black man wearing socks in the pool on the Fourth of July.

The man, Kevin Yates, and his girlfriend, Camry Porter, said they had taken Porter’s two young godsons swimming at the pool at Riverset Apartments, where Porter lives. They said they were the only black people at the pool.

Yates, 25, was watching the children play in the pool, sitting at the edge with his feet dipped in the water, when a woman who identified herself as a property manager asked him to remove his socks because they were not “proper pool attire,” the couple said. When he did not remove his socks or leave the property, they said, she called police.

Porter, 25, posted an account of the incident on Facebook, along with video of their conversation with a police officer.

In an interview Sunday, she said she felt racially targeted by the manager, whom she identified as Erica Walker. She said white people were wearing clothing other than swimsuits, such as hats or shirts, in the pool.

“It’s not the issue with socks,” Porter said. “If socks were not to be worn, that was very well fine. The issue was we were the only one addressed.”

Riverset Apartments and its Chicago-based property management company, Trilogy Residential Management, did not respond to requests for comment Sunday but have released statements condemning discrimination.

“Ms. Walker was terminated immediately after we completed our investigation,” one statement said, adding that “she will never be employed by Trilogy Residential Management, LLC or any of its properties in the future.”

Walker, reached by text message Sunday, declined to comment.

Several white people have faced consequences after calling police on black people, or threatening to do so, at pools this summer.

A white North Carolina man was fired after he demanded identification from a black woman at a private community pool and called the police when she refused. In South Carolina, a white woman was charged with assault after she accosted a black boy and his friends at a neighborhood pool by telling them they had to “get out” or she would call 911.

On the Fourth of July, Yates said, he walked from the apartment to the pool wearing socks and flip-flops. He said he left his socks on as he tended to Porter’s godsons.

“I’m going to be in and out of the pool with the little kids and I don’t want my feet scorching on this ground,” he recalled.

A woman in a swimsuit asked him to take off his socks, and then returned while identifying herself as a property manager, he said.

Porter said she asked for identification to show that Walker worked at the complex, but Walker would not provide it. She said Walker asked them to leave and called police when they refused.

Porter and Yates commended the police officer for handling the situation professionally; the video shows him trying to defuse the tension.

During a conversation with the officer, the couple said, Walker offered to allow them to go to a different pool at the complex.

“That’s when I finally understand: It’s not the socks, it’s me,” Yates said.

The couple took the children back to the apartment, and Porter posted about the confrontation on Facebook. The next day, she said, the management company contacted her and offered her three months of free rent.

She later learned that Walker had been fired.

“We all have bills,” Porter said. “I’m not going to cheer and throw a party that Ms. Erica was fired.” But, she added, “there should have been some consequences.”

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