What's going on here, Oakland? A photo of a flyer was posted to Twitter today that warns "neighbors of Cleveland St." to be on the lookout for a dangerous criminal asking for phone numbers. Or something.

The flyer starts out like any number of Craigslist Missed Connections posts, but quickly veers into the realm of possibly racisty. Here is the full text, with the original emphasis preserved:

Dear Neighbors Of Cleveland Street

On Monday, October 12, around 8:30am, I was approached by a man asking for my phone number......

Look Out For This Man: mid-late 20's, African American, medium build, around 5'10", short dreadlocks, wearing saggy jeans and a tan hoodie, both dirtyish, walking a pit bull on a rope.

*He was clearly not a resident of our block, crossing back and forth across the street.
*He asked me if I had friends, if he could be my friend, then asked if he could give me his phone number, presumably to steal my phone.
*As I reached the intersection of Cappell and Cleveland, an older model (possibly late 80's) Buick/Lincoln type sedan, light tan color, pulled up. I believe they were working together.

I reported this incident to the police and asked for possible surveillance.


Is this really a strategy of phone thieves, or just your average street harassment/poor attempt at hitting on someone gone wrong? And since when did "crossing back and forth across the street" qualify you as not being from somewhere?

Obviously this read makes a few assumptions (mainly, that the flyer poster is white), but, any way you slice it, the jump from "damn some creep is trying to give me his number" to "OMG coordinated robbery attempt by black men!" is a big one. Though that's not to say he wasn't, maybe, after her phone.

But as one astute observer put it (referencing the hotbed of racism that is Nextdoor):

Clarification: Street harassment is a real problem. It's not "weak game." Refusing to be harassed is neither a symptom of gentrification nor a manifestation of racism. The intention of this post was to point out the problems with this posted flyer — of which there are many — not to suggest that women (or anyone) should allow themselves to be harassed or that neighbors should not share safety information.

Previously: Oaklander Rails Against Gentrification, Tells Newcomers To Stop Moving There