A new offense to add to the list of doing while black: Eating

A man was arrested for eating a sandwich while standing on a station platform waiting fo a commuter train in San Francisco. You can watch the video and then read what happened here.

In the end four police officers arrived on the scene and handcuffed him and took him away, a ridiculous over-reaction, considering that there are no signs telling people that they cannot eat on the platform, as the police officer was told by the person filming the encounter. The citation they gave him calls for him to pay a $250 fine or do 48 hours of community service.

About six minutes into the video, another police officer, identified on his badge as L. Vallejo, reaches the platform with three other armed officials, forcibly turns Gluckman around and handcuffs him.

“Four cops for eating a sandwich?,” Gluckman and the person filming the video say repeatedly to the camera.

The officers say in the video that Gluckman had been arrested on suspicion of additional charges, which had been reported before McCormick spotted him eating on the platform.

“There was a report of somebody matching your description,” Vallejo answered, before taking Gluckman to a locked detention room behind the station.

“I literally just got here. Check the cameras,” Gluckman says loudly as the door shuts in front of the camera.

Of course, “somebody matching your description’ is police-speak for ‘black male’. No other identifying characteristics are deemed to be necessary. You would think that four police officers in a major metropolitan area would be somewhere catching, you know, real criminals rather than sandwich eating. Even if eating on the platform is technically an offense, all the police officer would have to do is inform the person of the rule and then tell them to finish it quickly or throw it away, instead of escalating it.

The head of the transit authority has apolozied to Gluckman.


  1. says

    There is more going on here than meets the eye.

    The person asking about signs (presumably the person filming) is either remarkably oblivious, or is flat out lying. There are signs all over the place stating that eating and drinking are not permitted inside the BART system. There are regular news articles about the irony of vendors just outside the fare gates selling food and drink. While it is *possible* the people in the video don’t know that he’s committing a (minor, common) violation, it is extremely unlikely.

  2. Sam N says

    @2, it’s pretty fucked up when the only person that rule is being enforced upon is black, regardless of your take on technicalities.

  3. says

    There is absolutely a legit question about why is this conversation happening at all. This is a rule that is essentially never enforced. But, once the conversation starts, the correct secret white guy code is “sorry officer, I didn’t know, how shall I best dispose of my sandwich?” because he has you dead to rights. Would it have worked for our friend in the video?

    We shall never know, because he chose a different path.

  4. John Morales says

    Andrew, Sam, you both make good points.

    But one thing I know is: don’t pointlessly escalate against authorised officers when you’re technically in the wrong.

  5. Sam N says

    @4 Almost like the onus should be on the people who are called heroes and supposedly trained for public safety. But here I am a radical leftist. I must be dangerous…

  6. Sam N says

    @5 I don’t know John, I was raised to dodge tickets. Pulled over 5 times for speeding and always given warnings. Not one ticket yet. Yes, I’m falsely obsequious and know exactly what to do. But I don’t think it’s wrong to get angry when you’re being shit on by an institution.

  7. John Morales says

    Sam @8, there’s not being wrong, and there’s being pragmatic.

    Yeah, maybe the initial hassle was because of being black, but the attitude sure didn’t help his cause.

  8. xohjoh2n says

    @2 @4 @5

    No, if you’re getting arrested for eating a sandwich then there is something seriously wrong with your country, with your police, and with you for even being in the same vicinity as supporting that situation.

  9. Sam N says

    @9, maybe my pragmatism is better explained by the fact that I get a fair hearing when talking to the police. At the top tier in education, not wealthy, but know how to dress well and fit within broadly standard conventions of dress and manner.

  10. Sam N says

    And I do understand my comments have been a little bit surly jerk-face, but I don’t think I’ve gotten out of line, yet. Sometimes that persona is the more laconic one.

  11. John Morales says

    Sam, maybe.

    xohjoh2n, arguable. Breaching the law is breaching the law; now, it may be a ridiculous law, it may be prejudicially applied, but law it is nonetheless. And again, lipping off to law enforcement is not a great way to get leniency, and in my estimation was the proximate basis for the arrest.

    Point being, this is no slam-dunk in my estimation, unlike other instances which indisputably are.

  12. Sam N says

    Yeah, I’ve googled around, too. The black guy is no hero, and no one is going to call him that. Yet millions of Americans will blindly call the police officer a hero. And cool that you googled around but made no argument. Awesome! I hope you liked it, but your going to get a lot more of it.

  13. says

    I made no argument quite deliberately.

    There are many ways to read the results of a google search, and I have no particular opinion on which one is right, and even less desire to express any opinion I might have. Furthermore and more generally, arguing on the internet is generally pointless anyway, I prefer to neutrally offer alternatives and ideas, and then to step back. People are free to follow up or not as they see fit. I am always willing to talk one-on-one but decline to engage in performative public “arguments” that invariably accomplish nothing.

  14. bmiller says

    To be honest, the BART system is already filthy enough. I cannot speak to differential enforcement, but allowing unlimited eating and drinking in confined trains would be disastrous. Americans are pigs, and the aisles would be awash in debris. This is not the Lake Merritt barbecue situation but a public transit system.

    I agree 4 cops is excessive, but is part of that reason the aggressive response of our “victim”?

  15. Kreator says

    @Sam N, #13

    And I do understand my comments have been a little bit surly jerk-face, but I don’t think I’ve gotten out of line, yet. Sometimes that persona is the more laconic one.

    Believe me, you’ve been far, far away from crossing any lines when dealing with all the victim-blaming that’s going on in here, in fact I commend your effort. It’s almost the same as when a woman gets sexually harassed: bringing the person’s past against them? “She used to sleep around, she cheated on her boyfriend…” Telling them to just be nice, calm and subservient? “You should have smiled and said ‘thank you’ to the catcaller for his compliments!”

    Furthermore to the second point, telling black people in America how to interact with the police has two problems: first, it assumes that they haven’t been given the same advice all their lives. They have, over and over. It’s like women being told how to act and dress in order to avoid sexual assault. Second, when thousands of black people are telling you that their interactions with the police almost always go sour no matter how “well” they behave, ignoring it, downplaying it or even downright denying it in order to give your oh-so-wise advice is racist condescension at best. These attitudes imply that the privileged person is more knowledgeable about the oppressed than themselves. It’s low-key white supremacy, even if at an unconscious level.

  16. says

    I am not convinced that there is a productive parallel to be drawn between “dress unsexy so you don’t get raped” and “when a cop asks you to comply with the clearly posted regulations, do so.”

  17. Sam N says

    @20, for someone who believes argument on the internet ‘is generally pointless,’ you certainly have a strong perspective that you’re too cowardly to explicitly defend.

    Either engage or not. Piss or get off the pot. Your reluctance is telling. You’re probably far more a jerk-face than I am. Let’s hear it.

  18. Sam N says

    @18 you don’t think a better trained police officer couldn’t have given out a ticket citation, or better yet, not singled out a black guy for a severely rarely forced infraction? If you care so much, set up checkpoints like for drunk driving that enforce uniformly. Your acceptance of the situation is telling of your own bias.

  19. says

    Sam, you are welcome to contact me at amolitor@gmail.com any time you like, I would be happy to engage fully, to speculate, to consider a variety of ideas, and so on. At the moment, you are slinging namecalling around in a more or less perfect example of why arguing on the internet leads nowhere. You appear to be trying to lure me in to an extremely tiresome dance which was old 20 years ago.

    I predict that you will decline to contact me privately, thereby revealing that your intent here is 100% performative. But, there’s always a first time.

  20. says

    I would like to put down for the record that Sam surprised me by contacting me. We had a conversation that I enjoyed, and furthermore felt had real merit. Thank you, Sam.

  21. Mano Singham says


    Glad to hear it.

    I have found that most of the discussions here are in good faith and cordial, genuinely seeking to understand issues and each other better. That is what has made blogging for me so pleasurable.

  22. Kreator says

    @Andrew Molitor, #20:

    “when a cop asks you to comply with the clearly posted regulations, do so.”

    Except the cop wasn’t trying to get the man to comply with the regulations, he was simply harassing him for being black, just like catcallers harass women just because they can. The statistics support this*, the lived experiences of black people in America support this. When it comes to cop vs. unarmed black person, more often than not the moral thing to do is to side against the police. Exceptions? When they come, they are rarely ever ambiguous. Take, for example, Bill Cosby, just to mention a high-profile case.

    * Google how black people get stopped more often while driving, are given longer sentences for the same crimes as white people (especially drug-related offenses), are proportionally killed more often even if unarmed, and so on.

  23. Kreator says

    Here’s but one recent example of what I’m talking about: An Arizona deputy using excessive force against a black teen with no arms or legs! When another teenager films the incident, he threatens to arrest him too. Giving the benefit of the doubt to the police in America is a big mistake; they are trained to be bullies and nothing more.

  24. says

    Kreator, as far as I know all the facts you mentioned are true, yes.

    What I am hearing, which let us stipulate may not be what you actually are saying, is this:

    When I, a white man, am in a situation like the above, I exercise a certain set of behaviors. My behaviors are not the same as those of the young man above. Also, my outcomes are different from the outcome indicated above. You appear to be suggesting that the difference in outcomes has nothing to do with the differences in behavior, but is entirely based on skin color.

    This strikes me as unlikely. I am perfectly at ease stipulating that skin color plays a role, but I do not believe that it is the only thing that matters.

    Perhaps I am reading too much in to what you are saying, however.

  25. Kreator says

    @Andrew Molitor, #28:

    You appear to be suggesting that the difference in outcomes has nothing to do with the differences in behavior, but is entirely based on skin color.

    Indeed I am, and now I have further evidence:

    A recent examination of the data from the BART system has shown that black (and Latino) riders are disproportionately cited by BART police for eating and drinking. Here are a couple of select paragraphs that reinforce my previous statement:

    “I’m not surprised the enforcement over food has been largely black and brown. A black man in a hoodie eating a sandwich is perceived differently than a white man in a suit drinking a coffee, though both are breaking the law,” said Darrell Owens, an East Bay housing and transportation advocate who spoke previously at a BART board meeting on the incident.

    Owens said that BART police app reports show that “riders were more likely to report black and brown people doing non-criminal behavior,” citing a 2015 investigation by the East Bay Express.

    Emphasis mine.

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