A Black, gay law professor and her son were kicked out of a public pool in Fort Lauderdale after a white woman complained that they were “talk[ing] over [her] lane,” according to reports.
The Black woman, Ghenete “G” Wright Muir, said she and her son were training Sunday in the pool at Joseph C. Carter Park, a historically Black facility, when the incident occurred. Wright Muir is a Caribbean American law professor, and both she and her son, Masai, are members of the U.S. Masters Swimming Club, according to Caribbean National Weekly. Wright Muir is also the founder of Thou Art Woman, a community group for LGBTQ women in the arts.
“I said something to my son and the lady in the lane between us said ‘you can’t talk over my lane.’ I immediately asked the lifeguard if that was a rule, and she said there’s no such rule,” Wright Muir told NBC 6, adding that the woman also refused to switch lanes so she and her son could be next to each other. “She starts to complain to the lifeguard that she needs to do something about us. She starts threatening her job saying she’s gonna talk to her supervisor.”
When Fort Lauderdale police officers arrived, they shut down the pool and made everyone leave, according to NBC 6. However, Wright Muir alleged that the white woman was allowed to remain in the pool while she and her son were kicked out. Police body cam video of the incident shows Wright Muir telling officers, “We were following the rules and it shouldn’t have come to this. It shouldn’t have come to police coming here.”
Wright wrote later on Facebook: “We told the police we needed to see her leave—simply because we are so used to being the ones who are disciplined and held to account while our white counterparts have no consequences for their actions. I felt the tension growing, and knowing our lives could be in jeopardy, I decided it was best for us to leave the pool area. We waited in the parking lot…my son needed to see her get out…I needed to see her get out. Instead, the police told us we had to leave and were not to return to the entire park for 24 hours.”
Caribbean National Weekly identified the white woman as Lani Kempner, a former professor at Broward College. The college’s website lists Kempner as an adjunct professor in Activities and Wellness.
According to NBC 6, police later issued a trespassing warning to the white woman, banning her from the park for three days. But they also issued a trespassing warning to Wright Muir, banning her for 24 hours. The lifeguard who called police quit the same day because of what happened. Wright Muir said the incident is an example of “swimming while black.”
“There’s no violence,” she said. “There’s no weapons. There’s no threat of violence. There’s no danger. Why are the police being called here? Have a manager come to assist. Perhaps a park ranger but the police did not need to be called. And with the history of police and Black people and the current climate, I believe calling the police at that point was an act of violence against me and my son. People are not supposed to call the police when there’s no danger. There was no danger. There was no emergency.”
“Ironically…or not… this pool is a historical pool built during segregation specifically for Black people and has a rich history. So many people have contacted me and shared how they learned to swim there or their kids swam there,” she wrote. “The Karen aka Lani has been identified and is not a member of the U.S. Masters Swimming Club. We have learned that she does have a history of problematic behavior at the pool and we are pushing to have her BANNED from this pool if not all Fort Lauderdale pools.
“I spoke with the Fort Lauderdale police,” she added. “We now have all 3 officer names and learned that Lani did eventually get out of the pool and was also trespassed for 24 hours. We were still treated differently and unfairly by being required to leave the pool deck and the entire park while she remained in the water and actually continued swimming after orders to exit. There’s no police report🤷🏿♂️ but there is a record of what took place. More work required here for sure.”
Muir Wright reported that she also also discussed the incident with city and county leaders.
Watch NBC 6’s below.