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A California woman, who called police on Filipino man for using sidewalk chalk to write “BLACK LIVES MATTER” on the concrete wall in front of his home, has apologized.
Lisa Alexander phoned law enforcement on her neighbor, James Juanillo, on June 9 after she accused him of defacing private property, not realizing he lived there. Alexander, has since apologized following widespread condemnation of the encounter, which went viral on social media.
“I want to apologize directly to Mr. Juanillo,” Alexander wrote in a statement. “There are not enough words to describe how truly sorry I am for being disrespectful to him last Tuesday when I made the decision.”
Alexander, the CEO of California-based skincare company LAFACE, claimed to be “ignorant and naive to racial inequalities,” adding she’d “love” to share a coffee with Juanillo.
“I should have minded my own business,’’ she added. “I did not realize at the time that my actions were racist and have learned a painful lesson. I am taking a hard look at the meaning behind white privilege and am committed to growing from this experience.”
Some businesses, which had prior working relationships with Alexander, publicly severed ties with her company following news of the incident.
“We’ve removed their products from our website and will not be working with them again in the future,” makeup subscription service Birchbox wrote in a statement.
Alexander’s husband, Robert Larkins, who appeared to film the encounter, was also fired by financial firm Raymond James, the company confirmed on Monday.
“Raymond James has zero tolerance for racism and discrimination of any kind,” the firm said in a statement.
“An inclusive workplace is fundamental to our culture, one in which people are free to bring their whole selves to their careers, and we expect our associates to conduct themselves appropriately inside and outside the workplace. After an investigation into the circumstances of a video alleging racism by one of our associates, we have concluded that the actions of he and his partner were inconsistent with our values, and the associate is no longer employed by Raymond James.”
Larkins, too, since apologized for wrongly weaponizing the police against Juanillo.
"Over the last two days, I have had my eyes opened wide to my own ignorance of racial inequity, and I have thought a lot about my own personal blind spots,” Larkins said in a statement obtained by KABC-TV. “I was wrong to question Mr. Juanillo, and I was wrong to call the neighborhood police watch. It was wrong, and I am profoundly sorry for treating him with disrespect.”
Juanillo, who filmed the encounter, identified Alexander as a “Karen” — a shorthand moniker for an entitled white woman — in a now-viral post uploaded to Twitter. The post has since generated more than 16 million views.
“A white couple call the police on me, a person of color, for stencilling a #BLM chalk message on my own front retaining wall,” Juanillo described in the post.
The roughly two-minute video begins with Alexander confronting Juanillo outside his San Francisco home for writing “BLACK LIVES MATTER” with yellow sidewalk chalk. The couple, unaware he owned the property, suggested he was defacing the wall.
“Is this your property?” Alexander asked Juanillo.
"If I did live here, and this was my property, this would be absolutely fine? Juanillo responded. “And you don't know if I live here, if this is my property?"
Alexander then claimed she knew the owner, prompting Juanillo to challenge her to phone the police
“Call the cops,” Juanillo responded. “I’ll be right here.”
He ended the video declaring, “And that people, is why Black lives matter.”
Police were supposedly dispatched — and quickly departed after realizing the couple’s mistake.
"The police came and recognized me immediately as a resident of the house and left without getting out of their patrol car,” Juanillo told KABC-TV. “I didn't even show them my ID."
Juanillo described himself as a “proud, gay Filipino,” according to San Francisco radio station KCBS.
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