Wesley Michel, a Black software engineer, waited for a disabled friend outside of her apartment building in San Francisco on July 4. As he waited, a white man identified as YouTube executive, Christopher Cukor was caught on video accusing Wesley Michel of trespassing. The intrusive Cukor’s son was with him at the time of the incident. Inevitably, Cukor called the police even as his young son pleaded with him to leave.
Michel was waiting outside patiently when Cukor demanded that he disclose the name of the friend who lived in the building. When Wesley Michel refused, Cukor took out his cell phone and dialed 911. The YouTube exec went on to describe the “trespasser,” giving them Michel’s description as his distraught son pulled his sleeve begging Cukor to “let’s just go” and “I agree with him, Daddy,” in reference to Michel’s statement that his behavior would make him infamous.
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Christopher Cukor’s sense of entitlement to Wesley Michel’s personal business was infuriating to watch. Michel advised Cukor that he would become the next white man in a long list of white people who called the police on Black people for merely existing to become a viral news story. “Don’t threaten me,” was Cukor’s response to the warning. Throughout the video, the boy continued to try to reason with his racist father, saying: “Daddy, let’s go. I don’t like this. Please. Daddy, let’s go.”
What’s even more disconcerting was Cukor’s self-righteousness. His son’s discernment that Michel was not a threat superseded Cukor’s common sense. He was not worried about his safety. He felt he had the right to force another grown man to answer to him based on his implicit bias of Black people. Cukor would not have asked a white man for that same information.
When Michel’s friend arrived, Cukor still questioned them, and even she asked him what was he doing. Cukor’s embarrassing behavior became apparent to him as Michel kept recording and he demanded that Michel remove the camera. It was at that moment, Cukor confirmed to police that Michel was not trespassing at the San Francisco apartment building. However, that had already been established.
He has now deactivated his social media, and YouTube has not issued a statement regarding his nefarious behavior.
YouTube’s executive leadership consists of five people with no people of color.