When she moved from Alabama to Alameda County, California Dr. Nakieta Lankster never thought she’d be a victim of a hate crime, but that’s exactly what she said happened during the early morning hours of August 22.
As she sat in front of her condo just after midnight, Lankster spotted a white man staring into her car. At first, she didn’t think much of him.
“He was still on the sidewalk, so I thought maybe he was looking for somebody,” she told CLUTCH, discussing the traumatic incident for the first time. Though Lankster didn’t worry about the man at first, when he circled around the front of her vehicle, still peering into her windows, she decided to head inside her apartment.
That’s when she saw the machete.
“He just started charging at me with a machete and screaming ‘F– you, Black b—h, don’t get stabbed,” Lankster recalled.
After threatening her, the man then began pacing in the street while yelling, “F–k Black Lives Matter,” before advancing on Lankster again.
“I hopped in my car. I’ve never moved that fast in my life,” she said, still shaken up days later.
Lankster, who is a clinical psychologist and the CEO One Healing, Educating, and Renewing Through Therapy, an international non-profit focusing on youth advocacy, drove to a shopping center down the street from her condo and called the police.
Within minutes, several officers from the San Leandro Police Department arrived and took the man down.
“It was like something from a movie. I’ve never seen that many cop cars before in my life,” she remembered.
Police identified the man as 46-year-old Gerald Stephen Melton. As he was being taken into custody Lankster said he never took his eyes off her.
“He was in handcuffs but he was looking at me the whole time, even when they put him in the police car,” she said. “That’s what had me concerned because I don’t want any type of revenge.”
Even more upsetting? Though she’s never seen Melton before, police told Lankster he is one of her neighbors.
According to Alameda County’s inmate records, Melton was booked on two counts of exhibiting a deadly weapon and making criminal threats. He appeared in court on Tuesday, and he’s currently being held in the Santa Rita jail on $10,000 bail.
The whole situation has made Lankster think twice about living in the Bay Area.
“I know that racial things can happen anywhere, but I generally saw people in California as being more open,” she said.
Now, things have changed. “I don’t feel safe, and I’m definitely moving,” she added.
Lankster hopes to relocate to South Africa, a country she’s lived before, but she won’t let that stop her from making sure Melton is held accountable for his actions.
“No one should have to deal with this for any reason, but we constantly hear these stories. There are so many men and women who didn’t live to fight [for justice] because of whatever happened to them,” she explained. “So I’m definitely going to fight.”