The latest instance of an irrationally enraged white person calling the cops on African-Americans for innocuous activities has gone viral, and this time around, it involves a multimillionaire socialite.
Kelyn Alyssa was taking photographs in celebration of her one-year-old daughter’s birthday last week on the esplanade of North Boulevard in Broadacres in Houston when Franci Neely confronted her and her family.
The area is a popular destination for photographers and was affirmed as public property by the City of Houston in 2017, according to ABC13.
On Saturday 02.16.19 my husband and I went to North Blvd in Houston to have some photos taken of our daughter to celebrate her first birthday. Its a well known public trail where many people have photos taken. When we arrived there were several other photographers in the vicinity, working with their clients. Our photographer arrived and we began setting up. We set up on the path for the baby to sit with small props (to match the scale of the baby) and began taking our shots. During the shoot there were lots of people jogging and walking their dogs who gave us wide berth (lots of room to do so) and even wished the baby happy birthday with a sweet smile as they passed by.About 35 minutes into our 1hr shoot we heard a voice shouting in our direction - and when we turned to look it was this woman rolling up in her car, shouting through her window: “You are trampling the grass that WE pay for”.Out of this light blue jaguar convertible emerges this barefoot caucasian woman wearing a housedress, holding nothing but a cell phone and carrying her dog. She marches towards us and upon arriving, takes a look at my 11 mth old daughter and releases her unleashed dog, who at the time could not walk and was sitting peacefully on the pathway. In the midst of her shouting, I immediately and calmly asked her to restrain her dog as it made a beeline for the baby and it was coming dangerously close to my child. I actually crouched next to the baby and put my hand out to try to shoo this strange dog away. The lady begins shouting at us that we are on private property, and that she will not restrain her dog because she can do whatever she wants there.I told her if her dog damages my child I will be pressing charges and she takes out her phone, starting to record me, asking me if I was threatening her. I repeated what I said. At this point her dog wandered away.Our photographer calmly approached her to let her know that she was the one directing the shoot. The lady tells her that she brought “these” people into “her” neighborhood. The lady had no answer when asked why she did not approach the other photographers WHOM SHE PASSED ON HER WAY TO APPROACH US. Her lack of response prompted my husband to take out his phone to record what was going on.At this point the lady stomps towards my baby and starts aggressively trying to remove the props placed around her, startling me. The baby, petrified by her aggression, started to scream and started crawling away from her into my arms.This did not deter her and she continued - my husband and the photographer quickly approached her to block her from doing this and at this point I started to shout at the lady about her aggression upsetting my child.She appeared stunned that I finally started to shout back at her...but I’m not sure what else she was expecting. The rest is what you see below. When my husband spoke to a police officer following this craziness he confirmed what we already knew - we were doing nothing wrong because we were on public property. The photographers in the vicinty all approached us afterwards completely appalled by this woman’s behaviour, and confused as to why they werent targeted by her at all.She passed people taking fashion shoots, people crouching on the walkway, “trampling” her beloved grass - and came directly at the photoshoot with the gold “1” balloon to cause a scene. With an 11 mth old sitting on the floor. And her parents making funny faces to make her laugh. Absolutely disgusting.A police report has been filed. We will be pressing charges and are currently seeking legal counsel on this matter.Please distribute widely. A baby was involved. THIS HAS GOT TO STOP.Posted by Kelyn Alyssa on Monday, February 18, 2019
Neely—who is the ex-wife of Houston Astros owner Jim Crane—appears in the video barefoot holding her dog. According to the Houston Press, the confrontation spun out of control after Alyssa asked Neely to restrain the unleashed dog because it had approached the infant.
“I told her if her dog damages my child I will be pressing charges and she takes out her phone, starting to record me, asking me if I was threatening her,” Alyssa wrote in her Facebook post. “I repeated what I said. At this point her dog wandered away.”
Isaiah and Kelyn Allen pictured with their one-year-old daughter Anja— 3ChicsPolitico (@3ChicsPolitico) February 21, 2019
This is the family ex- wife of Houston Astros owner #FranciNeely harassed. She assaulted the dad and terrified the baby after unleashing the dog to run around unsecured.https://t.co/pW2tZI5cqq pic.twitter.com/azcya2aASV
When the photographer approached Neely to explain they were holding a birthday photoshoot, Neely told the woman that “she brought ‘these’ people into ‘her’ neighborhood,” according to Alyssa. This was when Alyssa’s husband pulled his phone out to begin recording the incident. Several times throughout the video Neely can be seen trying to swipe the phone out of the man’s hand.
She then proceeds to aggressively dismantle the balloons and props surrounding the baby.
Alyssa mentions in her Facebook video caption that Neely had “passed people taking fashion shoots, people crouching on the walkway, ‘trampling’ her beloved grass – and came directly at the photoshoot with the gold ‘1’ balloon to cause a scene.”
“The photographers in the vicinity all approached us afterwards completely appalled by this woman’s behavior, and confused as to why they weren’t targeted by her at all,” Alyssa wrote.
The family reported the incident to the police, who confirmed that they had done nothing wrong.
This woman is worth $30M. She’s the ex-wife of the owner of the Houston Astros— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@MuslimIQ) February 22, 2019
And here she is screaming & physically assualting a family for their “crime” of celebrating their 1 year old baby girl’s birthday
Y’all...we can’t let this be deemed normal? pic.twitter.com/RMrGWZJv4a
Another day, another racist.— Indivisible Network (@IndivisibleNet) February 23, 2019
This black couple was doing a photoshoot 1 year old baby, when this whole woman got upset about them having it... on a walkway!
She ends up slapping the father twice!
How isn't she in jail?
If you have this much anger in you about where a black 1 year old has her photoshoot, you are racist and need serious help. pic.twitter.com/iB24nnJeeI— Kenidra4Humanity (@KenidraRWoods_) February 22, 2019
Neely has since apologized in a 30-second video posted to YouTube, saying that “A week ago, I let my emotions overtake my better self. And I apologize from the bottom of my heart.” She went on to ask for understanding and forgiveness. “I love Houston and ask that we come together to heal,” Neely said, “and I extend my hand in friendship.”
But few were convinced, instead calling on those in charge to relieve her of her arts positions on the boards of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Houston Grand Opera, The Menil Foundation, and more.
This white woman’s “apology” is not an apology at all. Her behavior is horrifying. #FranciNeely should be removed from all boards she currently resides on.— Lisa Linke (@itslinke) February 23, 2019
Looking forward to @MFAH & @HouGrandOpera relieving her of her positions. https://t.co/FWfYv8Suzn
#FranciNeely why did she get away with assault? How much do I have to make to get away with assault? Or is it a donation thing? Is she bigger than the law in Houston? Why are people afraid of her— Donnie Riviere (@NostraDonnie) February 20, 2019
I hope Franci Neely resigns from all the art councils she chairs. The arts are for everyone. She can dispense with the charade that she is a philanthropist that cares for others. She committed assault in a disgusting display of racism & classism.— Patrick Green (@NightMovesPat) February 19, 2019