A white couple is facing an online backlash after a video was posted online of them accusing a man of color of vandalizing his property and lying about knowing the owner of the building. James Juanillo was stenciling "Black Lives Matter" in chalk outside his home when the couple, who identified themselves as Lisa and Robert, stopped him.
"A white couple calls the police on me, a person of color, for stenciling a BLM chalk message on my own front retaining wall," Juanillo wrote on Twitter. "'Karen' lies and says she knows that I don’t live in my own house, because she knows the person who lives here."
"Karen" is the blanket name given to middle-class white women who have been caught doing questionable things, particularly to Black people. In this past, this has included coughing on other people, refusing to wear a mask while shopping, and threatening to call the police on a Black bird watcher.
The video begins with Lisa asking Juanillo "Is this your property? I'm asking you if this is your property."
"Why are you asking?" Juanillo responds.
"Because it's private property," the couple state. "So are you defacing private property? Is this your building? You're free to express your opinions, but not on people's properties" Robert states.
"This is not the way to so it," Lisa states. "This is private property."
"If I did live here, and it was my property, this would be absolutely fine?" Juanillo asks. "And you don't know if I live here, or if this is my property?"
"We actually do know," Lisa states. "That's why we're asking." She goes on to state that the couple knows "the person who lives there."
Juanillo encourages the couple to call the person they think owns the house, or call the police. The couple then walks off and can be seen calling the police.
According to KGO, Juanillo said the cops arrived shortly after. He's lived in the area for 18 years and they recognized him as the homeowner and "did not even get out of the car."
Juanillo referred to the incident as "polite racism."
"What she did was everyday," he said. "It's polite racism. It's respectable racism. 'Respectfully, sir, I don't think you belong here at all.'"
"The police came and recognized me immediately as a resident of the house and left without getting out of their patrol car. I didn't even show them my ID."
Juanillo owns the property with Brad Gilbertson, who said that he does not know the couple.
"She just claimed she knew the owner of the house. She doesn't know me. I thought she was out of line," Gilbertson said.
Birchbox, a makeup subscription service, later identified the woman as Lisa Alexander, CEO of LAFACE Skincare.
"We have not worked with LAFACE for several years and, as a result of the CEO's actions today, have officially cut ties with them," Birchbox said in a statement.
After Birchbox identified Lisa Alexander, she issued a statement in which she apologized to Juanillo.
"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 said. "When I watch the video I am shocked and sad that I behaved the way I did. It was disrespectful to Mr. Juanillo and I am deeply sorry for that."
"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. I would love to have coffee with Mr. Juanillo in our neighborhood so I can apologize in person and share a dialogue where I can continue to lean and grow and be a better person."
Juanillo said that if he could speak to Alexander, he would ask "why? Why did she feel that what I was doing hurt her?"