UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — It was an unsolicited homecoming that left Bronx native Darren Martin unsettled.
After spending several years working on Capitol Hill and in the White House with the Obama Administration, Martin recently made the move back to New York, getting a job with the city and finding a unit in a 5-story walk-up on the Upper West Side.
On moving day this past Friday, Martin got an unexpected visit from the NYPD.
“I’m in my apartment but you know – you can’t go nowhere without the cops following me,” Martin said during the encounter live streamed via Instagram.
Turns out, someone called 911 to report a “burglary in progress” and the suspect was the building’s brand new tenant – Martin.
“Somebody called the cops on me in my own building,” he told viewers who were tuning in to watch the live video. “About how many are ya’ll? About six of ya’ll showed up, rolled up on me.”
He has a packed work schedule and that was the only time he had to move into the building.
“I didn’t really think anyone was going to call the cops on me because I mean – I was moving into the building.”
In the live video which Martin shared on Facebook and Twitter, one of the responding officers cranks the volume on a 2-way radio where a dispatcher could be heard describing the call.
“Somebody was trying to break in the door” with a “possible weapon,” the dispatcher said, describing the weapon as a “large tool.”
An investigation later determined there was nothing criminal about Martin’s activity.
Martin says his skin color along with the gentrifying neighborhood along 106th Street were obvious factors that led to police being called.
“As a black man when you’re in an all-white environment, you’re cognizant of that,” he said. “I have to say I found it kinda symbolic. [It’s] like welcome to the neighborhood.”
Sadly, Martin’s story isn’t one-of-a-kind.
Earlier this month, two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks for trespassing after asking to use a bathroom.
In Martin’s case, he hopes the incident serves as a teaching moment for the neighbor who called police on him.
“The broader message to everyone is get to know folks before you make these assumptions,” he said. “When you make that call there’s no turning back and it could have ended very differently.”
Calls to Pine Management – the company that manages the building located at 56 106th Street – were not returned.
Martin, who kicked off a one-year lease at the building, says he plans to ride it out.