White Campground Manager Terminated for Pulling Gun on Black Couple

A white campground manager who pulled out a gun on a Black couple while they were having a picnic has been fired, according to Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA). KOA released a statement on its official Facebook page on Wednesday, May 29, stating the organization fired the employee who drew her weapon on the picnicking couple in Starkville, Mississippi on Sunday, May 26.

In a viral video posted to Facebook and recorded by Jessica Richardson, a white female KOA employee in a yellow shirt is seen walking with a gun in her hand. Richardson, who is Black, is heard explaining that the employee pulled a gun on her and her husband because they reportedly did not have reservations to be on the campsite.

Richardson can be heard telling the employee that she did not know that reservations were required and that the employee could have just told them instead of drawing her weapon. The employee then can be seen putting her gun away.

“Today was a beautiful day so my husband (who's a vet), our 2-year-old dog, and myself, decided to Google a lake to visit and have a picnic. We found a lake located in Starkville, MS and decided to visit. Not five mins (sic) later a truck pulls up and a white lady screams at us, she then jumps out of her truck with a gun. And proceeded to point it at the 3 of us, simply because we [didn't] make reservations,” Richardson wrote on Facebook along with the video. “After leaving my husband stopped by the office and talked with her husband (they're the property managers). The husband tells my husband that reservations aren't needed for the lake.”

Richardson’s video has garnered over one million views online and over 16,000 shares as of May 30. Richardson told WCBI that the woman identified herself as a property manager and told her and her husband to “get, get, you don’t belong here.” “Time stopped. Everything stopped. I was confused as to what was going on. It’s not like we posed a threat to anybody out there walking our dog. There’s nothing harmful about that,” Richardson told the news station. “The fact that she used ‘get, get’ like we were a dog. You say get, get to a stray dog that’s on your porch. That ‘get, get’ got to me more than ‘you don’t belong here.”

The North Star has reached out to Richardson for comment on the incident but did not hear back in time for publication. In their statement, Kampgrounds of America stated they have reached out to the Richardsons and apologized “for the traumatic experience they endured.” The campgrounds noted that it does not tolerate that kind of behavior and said everyone, no matter their ethnic background, is welcome. “We regret any anxiety or doubt that has been raised by this unfortunate event among our millions of faithful camping guests,” the statement read. “We vow to do everything we can to raise awareness among our staff, our franchise owners, and their employees regarding the issues raised by Sunday’s experience.”

This is just one of the many incidents where Black people have been harassed for enjoying everyday activities, which often leads to questioning or threats to call the police. Last year, CNN reported that there were 26 incidents where the police were called on Black people who were not engaging in criminal activity.

One incident that sparked viral outrage was when a white woman called the police on two Black men grilling in a park in Oakland, California. Jennifer Schulte, now famously known as “BBQ Becky, called 911 on April 29, 2018 to report that the men were using a portable charcoal grill in an area that only permitted non-charcoal portable grills, HuffPost previously reported.

Grand Rapids, Michigan proposed a change to its human rights ordinance that would include a “bias crime reporting prohibition,” which would make it illegal to call 911 on people of color who are not engaging in any criminal activity. The proposed changes, which were first reported by MLive.com, would make people “check their biases” before making the decision to call the police.

“Call the police, but if you’re calling because your neighbors are having a barbecue and you’re calling because of some implicit bias because they’re people of color, we don’t want to see that,” Grand Rapids Diversity and Inclusion Manager Patti Caudill previously told the publication.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.