It can be shocking to receive a visit from a police officer, especially when you have no idea why you are being visited. It recently happened to a grandfather in Torrance, California. Abel Mata received a visit from the Los Angeles Police Department in the afternoon and they had a strange question to ask.
There were wondering if he could identify the child that he was holding just moments earlier and bringing into his home. He said that the two-year-old boy was Milo, his grandson, and he babysits him on a regular basis. He then found himself defending the relationship he had with the boy and trying to prove that he wasn’t a kidnapper.
It seems as if a white neighbor, who was not identified, had seen the Latino grandfather, Mata, taking Milo into the home. Milo is the child of his daughter, Athena and he has light skin.
To break things down on a very easy level, Milo has fair skin and Mata’s family is part of a mixed race family, which is very common in the United States. His wife is white and both his daughter and grandson have light skin. That made his neighbor suspicious, and she came to a conclusion that was rather shocking.
The woman lives in a nearby apartment and when the police arrived, she came outside with a samurai sword. She was also shouting that Mata was a kidnapper.
“She said, ‘You’re the one kidnapping the child,’” Mata told the newspaper.
“I was totally caught off-guard,” said the 55-year-old, who teaches seventh-grade history for Los Angeles Unified School District. “Literally like somebody punching you in the face and knocking you down.”
The LA Times described the matter succinctly: “His offense, by all appearances, was being the brown-skinned grandfather of a light-skinned child.”
It seems as if the woman then charged at the police and the grandfather with the samurai sword.
If this was a person of color who came out with a sword, I don’t believe they would have made it over to speak to him,” Athena told the newspaper. “They would have been shot and killed.”
In the end, Mata had to prove that he wasn’t a kidnapper. He was also warned that he shouldn’t go to speak with his neighbor because she would threaten charges of harassment. Since she was on her own property, she wasn’t charged with holding a weapon.
The matter seems to be settled for now but the Matas are disturbed over what took place. Both he and his daughter believe that the neighbor was treated more fairly than he was.
“I feel like to them it’s more illegal for a Mexican man to be carrying a white baby than it is for a white woman to be walking around carrying a weapon,” Athena told the newspaper. “They took more offense to my dad carrying around my white son than they did to a white woman carrying around a sword.”
“We’ve lived in Southern California our whole lives, and I’ve seen my dad experience racism because of the color of his skin and because of the way he looks,” Athena told ABC 30, “but never to this extent.”
“It’s painful, very painful,” added Abel Mata.