Real Estate

A Black Agent Waited In His Car For Clients. Then The Police Were Called

Marlon Crutchfield, a Compass agent and real estate photographer, filed a complaint claiming he was racially profiled while waiting to photograph a client’s home.

A Compass agent and real estate photographer filed a racial profiling complaint Monday after police questioned him and asked for ID in front of a client.

The agent, Marlon Crutchfield, was in his car waiting to photograph a client’s home in Arlington, Virginia, on Dec. 21 when a white neighbor confronted him, according to the Washington Post. A female neighbor reportedly watched Crutchfield’s car until he walked up to the home, at which point officers from the Arlington Police Department had arrived on the scene.

The neighborhood is adjacent to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, a military base.

A former U.S. Capitol Police officer himself, Crutchfield posted a video of the interaction on Facebook on Dec. 23 as an example of the type of racial profiling many Black real estate professionals experience. In the video, two officers walk up to Crutchfield at the door and ask to see his ID as more police cars pull up alongside the car.

“We got a call saying you was taking pictures,” one of the officers is heard saying in the video. Crutchfield grows upset and asks what crime he is being accused of committing. The client is also seen in the video, confirming that he has come to work with her and saying that the assumption Crutchfield was doing something wrong is “very racist.”

“They have three cop cars out here for me,” Crutchfield is heard saying. “I am an agent and a photographer and this is what we get in this climate. It’s ridiculous.”

While the situation later deescalated and Crutchfield was not charged with any offense, he called the entire interaction “demeaning” and filed a complaint with the department on Monday.

“Now over the years I’ve photographed thousands of homes: celebrities, notable politicians (Obama’s home), as well as regular priced homes,” Crutchfield wrote in the caption of the video he posted to Facebook. “NEVER have I been so embarrassed. It was hurtful and demeaning in so many ways.”

The incident comes after a summer of renewed calls against racism and police brutality after George Floyd died screaming “I can’t breathe” in May while a white police officer stood on his neck for more than eight minutes.

In real estate, the renewed calls for racial equity manifested in the form of numerous Black agents detailing stories similar to Crutchfield’s, in which they were reported to the police for suspicious activity while doing their jobs.

While organizations like the National Association of Realtors released mea culpas for past racism and policies that led to housing discrimination, many pointed out that corporate statements often do little to address present-day incidents of discrimination as they occur.

“Seriously, this could have gone any number of ways as we all know and there was no reason for any of it,” one Facebook user, Polly Driscoll, wrote under Crutchfield’s post. “I am furious too. You have worked with so many of us Realtors over the last 20+ years and have helped us sell the homes that we listed and I am sure we are all furious.”

The Arlington Police Department did not immediately respond to Inman’s request for comment. It had previously confirmed that it sent two officers to respond to a neighbor’s call and released a media statement that everyone “must work together” to respond to suspicious behavior while focusing only on “the behaviors of a person and nothing else.”

“We appreciate that what constitutes suspicious behavior can be ambiguous, but we must work together to ensure police are notified of suspicious behaviors that could represent a threat to our community, while at the same time ensuring that the focus remains on the behaviors of a person and nothing else,” the department said in a statement.

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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