The Black man who had the cops called on him by “BBQ Becky” in April is running for office.
Kenzie Smith recently announced his intentions to run for Oakland City Council month after a white woman, Jennifer Schulte, called the cops on him and his family for barbecuing in a nearby Oakland park. Dubbed “BBQ Becky,” Schulte called the police to complain that Smith’s family was using a charcoal grill instead of a “non-charcoal” grill as per the park’s rules.
Video of Schulte calling the police went viral, and though Smith was not arrested, he was questioned for an hour by the police. The incident became another example of white people calling the cops on Black people just trying to live their lives.
In response to that incident, as well as a general protest of the impact of gentrification on the area, hundreds of Black locals showed up at the same park a few days later to fire up their grills and throw their own party. Also following the high-profile incident, 37-year-old Smith was nominated for a position on the Park and Recreation Advisory Committee by Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, Bustle reported.
And now Smith wants to build upon that energy and run for a position on Oakland’s City Council. He filed documents last month to run for the City Council’s District 2 seat, held by incumbent Abel Guillén, the East Bay Citizen reported.
“Although Smith is a political novice, he has already shown a knack for bringing attention to issues such as racism in Oakland and homelessness,” according to the East Bay Citizen. “In addition to the BBQ Becky incident, Smith also helped shine a light on video showing an Oakland resident at Lake Merritt, later dubbed #JoggerJoe, angrily throwing a homeless person’s belongings into the trash and partially into the lake.”
Smith told Mother Jones that he is campaigning on a platform of education, employment, homelessness and renters’ rights.
“Win, lose, or draw, it doesn’t really matter. That’s not what it’s about,” he said.
“What it’s about is trying to get these young voters to vote, to actually have their voice heard, and also to continue to inspire the younger generation to say, ‘If he can do it, then I can do it, too,’” he added.