Drawing comparisons to the infamous #PermitPatty, a Harvard University employee has been caught on tape apparently interrogating a woman and her biracial child who were playing in their own apartment complex.
Theresa Lund, Executive Director at Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, was recorded by Alyson Laliberte mid-argument where Lund asked if she lived in affordable housing while Laliberte’s daughter was playing on the property where both women live. The incident took place on Saturday afternoon in Cambridge, MA, and was shared by Laliberte on her Facebook later in the day. The video has been viewed more than 1.5 million times as of Tuesday morning.
Laliberte was playing with her daughter on Saturday afternoon when Lund reportedly came down to take her to task for being noisy.
“I’m outside enjoying the afternoon with my daughter when this women came downstairs and asked me if I would move so her kids can nap,” Laliberte wrote on her Facebook. “Mind you it’s midday and we weren’t even being loud at all drawing with chalk.”
The video depicts a woman in workout clothes sitting on the pavement next to the person taking the video.
“I’m gonna sit right here, with you,” Lund says to Laliberte at the beginning of the video in a hushed voice, while also telling the child that she’s a sweetheart and her mother isn’t “being very nice.”
“Are you just mad because I won’t get off my own property?” Laliberte says.
“I’m sitting here because you’re preventing my children from sleeping,” Lund says. “Are you in one of the affordable units or are you in one of the Harvard units?” Lund insists on sitting next to Laliberte and questioning her, even as Laliberte asks her who’s minding her own children.
“So sit with me but it’s none of your business where I live, what my name is,” Laliberte says.
Lund insists that it is her business, since it is her home, and Laliberte was “disturbing” the whole neighborhood.
“I’m not going anywhere, Ma’am. I live here,” Laliberte says. “My kid is not doing anything wrong. Why should I leave?”
Lund then asks Laliberte where she lives, threatening to disturb her family in return: “I will come outside your window and scream. You’re outside mine.”
Lund may have also cursed at Laliberte, although that’s not immediately verifiable.
“You just swore,” Laliberte says to Lund at the very beginning of the video, which Lund denies.
Laliberte said in her post that she believes the altercation was racially motivated.
“It was totally discriminating and racist of her.. or maybe it was because my daughter is biracial who knows,” she wrote. “I have no idea who this woman is and the fact that she thinks she has some kind of authority over me is crazy!”
“I’ve lived in this complex for 15 years. Not one other person complained about my daughter and I,” she wrote.
Lund apologized in an email to the Boston Globe, admitting her reaction was “inappropriate and wrong.” Saying that she fell short of her own expectations of herself, Lund acknowledged that it “wasn’t my best moment, and I have to work to do more consistently be my best self.”
It is unclear if Lund has apologized directly to Laliberte.
Lund’s Harvard Humanitarian Initiative personnel page states that she has worked in academic leadership positions to “advance our understanding of complex global issues” and previously worked with Syrian refugees in Turkey and has completed executive education programs in negotiation and crisis leadership at Harvard University.
Oxygen.com has reached out to Laliberte and Harvard Humanitarian Initiative for comment.
Mike VanRooyen, Director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, allegedly commented on the organization's Facebook page in support of Lund. “Theresa Lund is a principled and ethical leader,” posted a user by the name of Mike VanRooyen, according to a screenshot shared by Twitter user Ann French. "She works tirelessly to advance human rights and equity, both nationally and globally." Though the Facebook poster's identity is unverified, online vigilantes have taken to commenting on a public status on his page.
The post was unavailable on the Facebook page late Monday morning.
[Photo: Screenshot from Facebook]