A man whose anti-Asian rant became a viral video has been identified as Michael Lofthouse, CEO of Solid8, a San Francisco tech company, according to the CBS and ABC affiliates in San Francisco and other Northern California media outlets.
In one of two such incidents in the region over the weekend, the video, originally posted on Instagram, shows a man cursing and gesturing with his middle finger at the family at the Bernardus Lodge and Spa’s Lucia restaurant in Carmel.
Jordan Chan, the woman who posted the video, told KION in Monterey that the incident happened as her family was celebrating the birthday of her aunt, Mari Orosa, on the Fourth of July and that the man was insulting and harassing her family with racist language, saying, “F— you Asians,” “Go back to whatever f—— Asian country you’re from” and “You don’t belong here.”
Raymond Orosa, Chan’s uncle, said the attack was unprovoked. “We were there just celebrating, having fun … Suddenly I hear this loud voice, you know, like ‘f—ing Asians.’”
The video starts with Chan asking the man sitting one table over to repeat what he had just said to them. The man stares at the camera for a few seconds, then extends his middle finger and says, “This is what I say.”
The man then says, “Trump’s gonna f— you,” as he stood up to leave, followed by “You f—— need to leave! You f—— Asian piece of s—!” A server then immediately yells at him. “No, you do not talk to our guests like that. Get out of here,” the waitress could be heard saying in the video.
“This is an extremely unfortunate situation, however, we are proud of our staff at Lucia in keeping with Bernardus Lodge’s core values,” said Sean Damery, the lodge’s vice president and general manager, in a statement to KOIN.
“This incident was handled swiftly and the diner was escorted off property without further escalation. We provide guests with a safe environment for lodging and dining, and extend our sincere apologies to the guests enjoying a birthday celebration on a holiday weekend.”
Critics have pointed out that Lofthouse is himself from the U.K.
Lofthouse issued an apology late Tuesday for his behavior. In a statement to the Daily Mail and other media, he said he lost control of his emotions.
“My behavior in the video is appalling,” the statement read. “This was clearly a moment where I lost control and made incredibly hurtful and divisive comments. I would like to deeply apologize to the Chan family. I can only imagine the stress and pain they feel. I was taught to respect people of all race and I will take the time to reflect on my actions and work to better understand the inequality that so many of those around me face every day.”
“He’s just saving face. I think he really meant what he said and what he did,” said Orosa. “I don’t believe his words because his actions speak louder than the words he’s saying.”
Orosa says those actions, in part, include additional Instagram comments that appear to have been posted by Lofthouse directed at one of the family’s supporters that include “Asian expletive” and “Come near me or my people and you are expletive dead.”
Orosa, who is a resident of Northridge, said in the 26 years he and his wife have lived in the U.S., he’s never experienced this type of hate.
A Change.org petition has been launched online to call for Lofthouse’s termination. It reads, in part: “Lofthouse has attempted to save face by issuing a pathetic apology and deleting his Linkedin and Facebook pages. He must not be allowed to get away with this behavior by simply disappearing from social media. He must resign. If he does not, he must be removed as CEO.”
More than 12,700 people have signed the petition. The goal is 15,000 signatures.
The petition was launched by Andrew Hibbs, identified only as a resident of Sandy Springs, Ga.
The waitress who intervened, Gennica Cochran, is being praised as a hero on social media. She told ABC7 that she felt protective of the Chan-Orosa family even though she had not been waiting on their table. “It was just something that came over me and I just did what needed to be done. I did what anybody else should or would do in that situation.”
Of Lofthouse’s apology, Cochran said, “I think it’s the standard issued apology that you get from racists. People who believe those things and they get called out for them. I don’t believe a word of it.”
She invited the family to come back to the restaurant, saying, “I’ve got your back always … And please just know that those words are not the values of the people that live here on the Monterey Peninsula.”
The take-away from this incident, Cochran said, is this: “If you see something, do something. Stand up against racism and hatred in any form any time you can.”
At least three GoFundMe pages have been started on her behalf: “A Big Tip for an Everyday Hero,” “Tips for Gennica Standing Up to Racism,” and “Give the Waitress at Lucia a Tip!” Some have sent Cochran money directly via Venmo. She said the funds will allow her to focus more on doing what she loves, teaching yoga, but she is also thinking about donating money to others, including in the service industry.
“Park Ranger Karen”
An Asian American family from the East Bay was hiking near Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County when a woman confronted them and told them repeatedly they “can’t be in this country,” reports Dion Lim of KGO, the ABC affiliate in the Bay Area.
Hiroshi, who doesn’t want to reveal his last name, his wife, 6-year-old son, 11-year-old daughter and her Maltipoo, Fluffy, were nearing the end of a four-mile hike on July 4 when they were approached by a woman who was upset that the dog was on the trail.
“You guys are just breaking the law,” said the woman through her face covering.
In the video, which gone viral on YouTube, Hiroshi asks, “Excuse me? Can’t be in this country?” The woman responds, “You can’t break the law.”
At one point the woman pulls out her phone and threatens to call the police.
Unaware that dogs weren’t allowed, his wife can be heard telling the woman they’re heading back to their car. The woman continues to speak, reiterating how the family “can’t be in this country.” When Hiroshi asks her name, she says “Beth.” Realizing she’s being recorded, she walks away.
Hiroshi, who said that he saw many other people with dogs during the hike, told ABC7 News that he was shocked by the experience. “You can’t just step in front of us and tell us to go back to our country. That’s dehumanizing!”
The woman, dubbed “Park Ranger Karen” on social media, was identified as Beth Taska, former vice president of human resources for Bay Area-based 24 Hour Fitness, by ABC7 News viewers who said they had previously worked with her.
The company issued the following statement: “Ms. Taska is not a current employee of 24 Hour Fitness and hasn’t been for years. We are committed to creating and maintaining a company culture at 24 Hour Fitness that embraces and values diversity and inclusion. This conduct is simply unacceptable and in no way aligned with our values or the behavior that we expect from our team members.”
Up until July 7, Taska was employed as the chief people officer at Topa Equities, which issued the following statement: “Following an internal review of the recent incident in Marin County, we have accepted the resignation of the employee involved, effective immediately. The conduct exhibited in the video was extremely disturbing. Topa Equities does not condone racism or discrimination of any kind in any form.”
On Tuesday, Taska sent Lim a text saying that she “deeply respects the right of all people and regrets her conversation did not illustrate this and wants to work toward unity.” However, she also said the video doesn’t depict what happened and that her words were muffled by the mask.
Hiroshi, who is half Japanese, said he has experienced racism before. “I’ve been called, since I was a kid, a number of things. A chink, a gook, told to go back to Vietnam. My family is from Japan.”
He says despite educating his daughter about the discrimination she may face later in life, they were still caught off-guard by the incident. “She just didn’t expect it to happen so soon in her life. She’s 11!”
Hiroshi said he is sharing his story to send a message to the public: “Use your voice and let the world know that this kind of incident occurs and they should be aware of it.”