'Why were the cops called?' | Viral TikTok sparks conversation around police – FOX61 Hartford

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MADISON, Conn — A video of two Hartford organizations having a beach party went viral this week. However, it is also sparking meaningful conversation.
The viral TikTok and Instagram reel shows a state trooper dancing and having fun with a group of young Black professionals at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, during the seventh annual skip work beach day event hosted by TMB and the University of Dope.
Although the moment has put a smile on the faces of many, for those, who were there explained, the moments leading up to the viral encounter serve as a constant reminder of the challenges marginalized communities face regularly.  
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“We have to go to the root of it,” said Fareed Rasheed, Co-founder of TMB. “Like why were the cops called? Why were they there in the first place when we were having a great day at the beach just like everyone else on the beach was.”
“They didn’t see any unusual activity; kids were having a hula-hoop competition– yea, it speaks to the even bigger issue why were they even there,” said Marian Andoh-Clarke, Co-founder of the University of Dope. 
State police said they responded after the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) called them and asked for assistance with a large party they were receiving calls about. 
“When we arrived on the scene, we were able to distinguish and realize it wasn’t the whole group that was causing an issue, it was just a few, a small few, and we asked them to leave,” explained Connecticut State Police Trooper Pedro Muniz.
However, the beach party hosts said dozens of troopers pulled up.
“Patrons were scared and decided to leave the beach because a lot of the officers actually had pepper spray in their hands,” explained Andoh-Clarke. “Again, there were kids there.”
They said it serves as a harsh reality.
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“Just being Black on a beach on a Friday can cause someone to think you are a threat and want to call the cops,” said Rasheed. “It’s also disturbing understanding everything that’s been going on the last couple of years– knowing that when you call the cops on black people, that the outcome could be.”
Despite that, all parties are happy that things ended peacefully. 
Muniz said it’s also great for kids and the community to see police and community connecting positively, like in the video. 
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“We often go to negative calls so we’re very on high alert,” explained Muniz. “We can’t let our guard down because we never know what’s going to happen, and to be able to let our guard down a little bit there, to break it down a little bit is nice, it’s relieving, and it helps everybody.”
Rasheed agreed but said it’s still a challenging situation for people of color and still questions why their group was targeted. 
“But, I’m also happy that it did not escalate and that the cop saw that there was no issue,” Rasheed added.
Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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