A black delivery driver was trapped for more than an hour in a gated community in Oklahoma City earlier this week by a white man claiming to be president of the local homeowner’s association.
The encounter, live-streamed by furniture and home appliance delivery driver Travis Miller on Monday, went viral as fears around the country have spiked over the lengths white people will go to defend spaces they see as theirs.
Miller had completed a delivery in the Ashford Hills neighborhood in Northeast Oklahoma City and was attempting to leave the gated community when a white man blocked him in with his car.
The man, who later identified himself as David Stewart, president of the local HOA, demanded to know where Miller was going.
“It’s none of your business. I’m going out, that’s where I’m going,” Miller responded.
After Stewart identified himself, a frustrated Miller replied, “I don’t care what your name is, move out the way.”
Miller waited in his vehicle for another 30 minutes when another man approached him: “All we want to know is why you’re in here and who gave you the gate code. That’s all we need to know,” the homeowner said.
Miller refused to divulge the information, not wanting to share his customer’s personal information, he told KFOR-TV.
He was held up for another hour before the customer finally emerged and talked to Stewart.
“They just spoke for a minute, and [Stewart] moved out the way,” Miller said on the livestream.
Moments later, an emotional Miller called the customer, who he said apologized profusely for the incident.
“Normally I could have handled it a little differently, a little better, but emotionally I have a lot of things going on,” Miller told the customer. He added that he didn’t want to move his car right away out of concern that police would think he was fleeing the scene.
Miller then called the police himself, just to make sure he was in the clear. On his Facebook Live, Miller can be seen wiping tears from his eyes before he gets back on the phone.
“I have my video, but ain’t no telling what they will or won’t watch,” Miller told a passenger in the vehicle.
To Miller, it’s clear Stewart’s actions were racially motivated. In his Facebook post, Miller referred to Stewart as a “white supremacist racist” and “the newest overt self-proclaimed defender of white flight spaces.”
Tensions are running high across the country as recent news events have highlighted clear racial divides. Foremost in many people’s minds is the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia at the hands of two white men, Travis and Gregory McMichael, who ambushed the young man as he was running through their Satilla Shores neighborhood. They claimed they suspected Arbery was a burglar.
But protests over coronavirus closures have touched on similar themes of white entitlement. Across the country, majority-white protests have called on state governments to lift shelter-in-place measures meant to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus, which has been devastating black communities, indigenous populations, and communities of color throughout the country.
“I just know that emotionally, it was hard to maintain restraint, especially when I’m dealing with death in the family, two family members within two days of each other,” Miller told KFOR. “I just did the best I could to make sure I didn’t make a bad situation worse.”