It's a business that has existed for as long as there have been summer holidays and borrowed lawn mowers.

A pint-size entrepreneur offers to endure the rage of a summer sun on a neighbour's behalf, pushing a lawn mower across high grass for a small fee.

Last week, in Maple Heights, Ohio, that entrepreneur was Reggie Fields, a 12-year-old who is the owner and mower-in-chief of Mr Reggie's Lawn Service. His sister and two cousins also provided manual labour in their neighbourhood outside Cleveland, Ohio, working a rake and a broom to corral clippings.

That's what they told Lucille Holt-Colden, 51, who encountered them at a Dollar Tree where they were purchasing a gas canister and some lawn bags on June 23. Holt-Colden thought it was a good investment. Her grass was growing taller, and her US$20 would be used to keep this particular group of black youths off the street and out of trouble.


She was mostly right.

As Reggie and his troupe were finishing up her yard, a Maple Heights Police car rolled up in front of Holt-Colden's house.

When she saw the police through the window, she was surprised. Then, when she learned what had happened, she was outraged - and reached for her cellphone to share it with the world.

"My neighbours that stay in that house right there," she said, swivelling the phone as it recorded her on video. "So I guess I have a line where part of it is not my yard. They called the police to tell the police that the kids was cutting their grass. Who does that? Who does that?"

She captioned the video: "This is RIDICULOUS!!!" a phrase she repeated several times during an interview with the Washington Post, along with "Who does this?"

Reggie, it seemed, was not just getting a lesson in summer business economics; he was also being schooled in the 21st century phenomenon known as #LivingWhileBlack.

Recently, African Americans who were engaged in laughably innocuous activities have been viewed through criminal-tinted glasses - and suddenly found themselves making explanations to police officers and security guards about completely lawful activities.

Reggie and his troupe were finishing up Lucille Holt-Colden's yard when the police was called. It's a business that has...

Posted by Otimenews on Saturday, 30 June 2018

Someone called the police on a black man who was reading a book about Christianity while watching the ocean. Black people have had the authorities sicced on them while going to the gym, shopping for underwear, waiting for the school bus and couponing.

Reggie isn't even the youngest #LivingWhileBlack victim. A few weeks ago, an 8-year-old selling cold water to passersby to help fund a trip to Disneyland was approached by a white woman who pretended to call the police on her. In 2012, police were summoned to an primary school in Georgia where they handcuffed a 6-year-old kindergarten student - for throwing a temper tantrum.

Holt-Colden and Reggie are both black; the neighbour who called the police on Reggie is white, but she doesn't know why the woman called the police.

According to Holt-Colden, the same neighbour has called police in the past - last December the neighbour reported a snowball fight between Holt-Colden's children. The Washington Post has contacted the Maple Heights Police Department to verify the call about a snowball fight. The neighbour could not be reached for comment.

"If the kids were white," Holt-Colden said of Reggie and his family members, "they would not have called."

When the police came, Holt-Colden said, Reggie's 9-year-old cousin was frozen with fear in her driveway, worried that he was in trouble.

But Reggie kept mowing. The children were not cited or stopped by the police in any way.

Still, Holt-Colden said she was upset that a lawman responded in the first place.

She was worried that Reggie's interaction with the police would be discouraging.

Many others chipped in to prevent that from happening.

"People are inboxing me like, 'How can I get in touch with these children?' 'Where are they at?' 'I got property I want these kids to cut,'" Holt-Colden said.

She started a GoFundMe for Reggie. By today, people had donated more than US$8600, the equivalent of more than 430 lawns.

But Reggie and his crew aren't resting on that publicity-fuelled windfall. Some people donated supplies - a leaf blower and a lawn mower - to help his business. And he's still out mowing lawns.

He's even made flyers on orange paper with an image of a lawn mower: "Mr Reggie Lawn Cutting Service. Taking it one step at a time. Schedule an appointment I'll be on time . . ."