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Oakland locals host massive party where woman called police on black men's barbecue

SF Gate logo SF Gate 5/15/2018 Alyssa Pereira

a large building with grass and trees: Neighbors across the street from Lake Merritt, had complained in the past when barbecues would send smoke to the upper levels of their homes, as seen on Sat. May 30, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. Regular patrols by the Oakland Police Department over the weekends has cut down on the use of barbecues . © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Neighbors across the street from Lake Merritt, had complained in the past when barbecues would send smoke to the upper levels of their homes, as seen on Sat. May 30, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. Regular patrols by the Oakland Police Department over the weekends has cut down on the use of barbecues . Oakland locals had the last laugh after a white woman called the police over two black men's use of a charcoal barbecue at Lake Merritt.

On Thursday, following viral backlash to the woman's actions, dozens of people flocked to the site of the incident to hold a large cookout and dance party.

Residents came out to the park in droves for the cookout, playing music, dancing, and skipping rope.

In late April an unidentified woman was recorded calling the police because she said "it is illegal to have a charcoal grill in the park here."

Michelle Snider, who is white, recorded the encounter. Snider accused the woman of calling the police because of the men's race.

"I started ... calling her out," Snider told SFGATE last week. "If you're here this long, is this really about charcoal and the police, or is it really because you don't want two black men having a barbecue? ... I just didn't see any reason why there was a threat."

RELATED: Video shows woman calling police over barbecue at Lake Merritt

Snider's husband, Kenzie Smith, told KRON that they have been barbecuing in this location for decades.

(Snider and her party were grilling in a designated barbecue location, but happened to be in one of the areas designated only for non-charcoal grills.)

Nevertheless, Oakland residents and city leaders say there are other ways to handle such disagreements rather than calling armed police officers.

RELATED: A woman called 911 about burglars at her neighbor's house. They were black Airbnb guests.

"I think it is really incumbent on all of us that when we call police, it is for emergency purposes," said Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney to The Hill. "I want to encourage people to know when to call the police, when to raise a question of regulations with the City Council, maybe there is a passive way to reach out to us."

Alyssa Pereira is an SFGATE staff writer. Email her at apereira@sfchronicle.com or find her on Twitter at @alyspereira.

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