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Man Faces Summons for Allegedly Following, Questioning Black Woman Who Picked Up Free Dog Food: Cops

A man is in some legal trouble up in Massachusetts. Groveland cops say that a 65-year-old resident will face charges for allegedly following a woman in his car. The incident garnered widespread attention after 21-year-old Julia Santos posted video of the encounter online. She said the man followed her home.

Santos and an official source cited by The Boston Globe identified the man as Paul Birkhauser. The newspaper said he didn’t return several messages on Wednesday. Police said he is going to be charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. He will face a summons in Haverhill District Court. Here’s the police account of what allegedly happened:

On Monday, June 29, a Groveland resident reported to police that they had responded on Monday afternoon to an ad on a Groveland community Facebook page where a resident was giving away excess dog food. The resident drove to the house, located approximately one mile from her own home, and picked up the free dog food. As she turned to head back home, she reported to police that the GROVELAND MAN in a vehicle turned around multiple times in an obvious effort to follow her.

As seen on the video, the man pulled up beside Santos, and questioned her about why she was driving in the area. She explained she had just picked up free dog food.

“Juniper’s a very small street,” said the man. “You didn’t stop.”

“I did,” Santos said. “I stopped. I grabbed the dog food that is right there [in the backseat of her car], and then I left, and I saw you following me all the way here. And I turned up here because I’m, quite frankly, I don’t feel safe right now.”

“I don’t feel save with you driving around my neighborhood,” said the man.

“Why?” said Santos.

“Why? Because there’s just too many people,” said the man.

“Too many people?” said Santos. “Or is it because I’m Black, is that why?”

“No, I don’t know what color you are,” said the man, who was white. “I don’t know what color you are. What color are you?”

“I just said I’m Black,” said Santos. “And is that why you followed me?”

“That’s good,” said the man. “You’re Black.”

“Yup,” she said.

“Congratulations,” he said.

So I just got followed home by this man! His name is Paul Birkhauser and he lives on 5 Juniper Terrace. Because I went to pick up dog food, he "didn't feel safe that I was in his neighboorhood." So he followed me home and tried to accuse me.If you know anything else about him, please let me know!

Posted by Julia Santos on Monday, June 29, 2020

They continued to argue. The man identified as Birkhauser said he didn’t believe Santos’s story.

From Santos’s statement:

Because I went to pick up dog food, he “didn’t feel safe that I was in his neighboorhood.” So he followed me home and tried to accuse me.

Another woman argued with the man, saying she didn’t like that “this poor girl was being harassed.”

Police said that the man “disturbed neighbors” and that another driver claimed they had to drive off of the road in order to get around him while he was arguing with Santos.

[Screengrab via Julia Santos]

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