Family wrongly suspected of suspicious activity on Nextdoor

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Family wrongly suspected of suspicious activity, Tracy Clemons reports. (KTRK)

Communities are connected now more than ever. Social media apps allow neighbors to get the word out quickly about everything from lost dogs to suspicious activity.

What one person finds suspicious, someone might consider harmless.

In northeast Harris County, a post on the site Nextdoor went to hundreds in the Summerwood community and nearby neighborhoods that a man and a woman were driving slowly along one of the main roads casing the neighborhood. The poster put out their license plate number and called police.

"They looked away and my instincts kicked in. I worked in the prison system for four years. When my instincts kick in, I am on target," the post stated.

As it turns out, it was a father teaching his daughter how to drive.

"I was just like what, wait a minute -- this is my husband and my daughter. Wait, hold on!" Zenia Ridley said.

Zenia said she often checks Nextdoor to see what's going on in the neighborhood.

"I was a little furious for the simple fact they put the license plate number, they put the vehicle and said I was casing the neighborhood," added her husband Roland Ridley.

The family had just bought their 22-year-old daughter a truck days before. Roland Ridley said that was her first driving lesson. He didn't see anyone wave because he was focused on giving her directions.

Zenia said it was a misunderstanding. Roland added that he won't rule out that race was a factor. The man who made the Nextdoor post denied the claim, saying it just felt odd.

A spokesperson for Nextdoor says the company changed the way people report suspicious activity after complaints of racial profiling in some of its Oakland neighborhoods. Since those changes, racial profiling conversations have dropped 75 percent.

The Ridleys won't say this was racial profiling, but they do hope everyone using neighborhood networking sites learn from their experience.

"I really want them to learn not all black people are bad, and not all black people are trying to hurt," Roland said.

"Your gut was wrong this time," added Zenia. "Again, I'm all for us being together as a community reporting crime and sticking together. But be sure."

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racial profilingsocial medianeighborhoodneighborhood watchHumble
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