Baxley brought his dog to Attleboro Dog Park in Attleboro, Massachusetts, which is about 15 minutes from his home in Rhode Island. In an interview with the Daily Dot, Baxley said that he goes to this dog park every day. He explained that, because no other dogs were in the park, he let him off the leash and watched from the car. “You’re supposed to be in the park with your dog,” Baxley said, “[but that’s one of the rules] that no one pays attention to when there’s no one else in the park.”
As seen in the videos, Baxley asks the woman: “Why are you calling the cops right now? Because I told you I wasn’t leaving the park because my dog humped your dog?”
“He is verbally assaulting me,” the woman (who is presumably on the phone with the police) replies.
Baxley: “I’m not verbally assaulting you. I told you I’m not leaving.”
“That’s inappropriate for a dog park,” pipes up a different white woman. “Honestly, I’m just trying to tell you what the rules are. You are not obeying the rules. You can’t allow your dog aggressively on top of another dog.”
“Dogs hump each other every other day,” Baxley replies. “You just don’t call the cops over it.”
This all comes back to the idea that white people act as judge and jury for people of color. Do we need white people to enforce laws that are technically on the books when it comes to kids selling water without a permit? Do we need them to call the police because a black man entered an apartment building? Do we need them to call the police over dogs interacting at a dog park?
No, we don’t.
It goes almost without saying that if a white child sold water without a permit, or a white man let his dog off leash, or a white woman entered an apartment building, no one would question it. This racism and implicit bias can be traumatizing … and deadly.
“She goes from being afraid of my dog ‘assaulting’ her dog to say she’s in fear of her safety,” Baxley said. “If you’re afraid for your life, you get your dog and you leave. She doesn’t do that so I …recorded her.”
Ultimately, in the last video uploaded by Baxley, police arrive, and he speaks with an officer. They warn him not to leave his car running. The woman focuses on her point that Baxley broke the “rules” and thus should have had to leave.
“They comforted her, they criminalized me,” Baxley said, which sounds, unfortunately, like the norm.
Baxley has since returned to the same dog park. Hopefully, Dog Park Debbie is examining her privilege and what, exactly, made her feel so “afraid.”