In the midst of the chaos surrounding the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, James Juanillo, a Filipino who resides in San Francisco, California, was accused by a white couple of vandalizing his own property, touted by Juanillo and many citizens as an act of racism.
Last week, Juanillo posted on his social media accounts, a video (taken by him) of a couple questioning his actions as he stenciled on his own gray retaining wall the words “Black Lives Matter.” He used yellow chalk to convey his message.
Based on several reports, the couple has been identified as Lisa Alexander, founder and CEO of LaFace Skincare, and her husband, Robert Larkin.
“I’m asking you if this is your property,” Lisa says at the beginning of the video.
While Juanillo refuses to answer their questions, Robert interjects by saying, “You’re free to express your opinion.” Lisa concurs, but reiterates that while the “signs and everything” are “good,” Juanillo is doing it on private property.
After several exchanges, Juanillo can be heard throwing his own questions to the couple, “If I did live here and if it was my property, this would be absolutely fine? And you don’t know if I lived here or this is my property?”
Lisa’s resolute answer is that they know that it’s not his property, adding that they personally know the person living there.
Juanillo then suggests that the couple call the cops, and he’d be willing to talk to them.
A white couple call the police on me, a person of color, for stencilling a #BLM chalk message on my own front retaining wall. “Karen” lies and says she knows that I don’t live in my own house, because she knows the person who lives here. #blacklivesmatter pic.twitter.com/rOpHvKVwgP— Jaimetoons (@jaimetoons) June 12, 2020
As Lisa and Robert walk away, the video ends with Juanillo saying, “And that people is why Black Lives Matter.”
According to a report by The New York Times, Juanillo said that police officers pulled up at his property minutes after the video ended, but immediately left after recognizing him. Juanillo has lived in the upscale residential neighborhood, Pacific Heights, since 2002.
In a report by ABC7 News, Juanillo describes Lisa’s and Robert’s discriminatory gestures as “polite” and “respectable” racism.
Lisa and Robert Apologize
Following the angry and frustrated reactions on social media, the beauty and grooming subscription service Birchbox has announced that it has officially cut ties with Lisa’s LaFace.
The couple has also issued an apology.
ABC7 News published the apology letter written by Lisa and Robert.
On one hand, Lisa admitted that her actions were a sign of disrespect, and upon watching the video again, she was “shocked” and “sad” to see her own behavior.
“The last 48 hours has taught me that my actions were those of someone who is not aware of the damage caused by being ignorant and naive to racial inequalities,” she wrote, in part, on Sunday, according to ABC7 News.
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On the other hand, Robert acknowledged that it was wrong to call the police on Juanillo, and that he himself needed to think further about his “own personal blind spots.”
His letter read, in part, “I have a lot to learn about how racism impacts people in their lives, daily, I have hurt my neighbor.”
Both Lisa and Robert expressed their hope to meet Juanillo soon so they could apologize in person.
The NBC Bay Area has reported that Juanillo is willing to accept an apology. He was quoted as saying, "If she just comes to my door we can put this away. We can have a kumbaya moment."