An unidentified woman visiting a Starbucks in Walnut Creek, California, was escorted out by police officers on Sunday, Dec. 10, after allegedly verbally attacking a pair of customers speaking Korean, SFGate reports.
Parts of the incident were caught on camera by one of the victims and since posting on Facebook, the video has generated some online buzz.
A Facebook commenter self-identified as Kimberly Kelly posted “I am so very sorry you experienced such awful rudeness, bigotry and hate.”
The unidentified woman was sitting nearby.
“Out of nowhere, we didn’t provoke her, we were just minding our own business,” said Lee to reporters.
The woman reportedly scolded An after Lee said something to her in Korean.
“As she was heading to get her coffee, this lady screamed at her, ‘don’t you dare say that again.’ She was berating my student for talking in Korean, and proceeded to demand that all immigrants speak English,” Lee posted on Facebook.
An began recording the incident.
“I don’t wanna hear your language. I don’t want to hear it,” says the unidentified woman on camera.
“I have the freedom to use my own language,” responds An.
“Especially not Oriental, I hate it,” the woman said later in the recording.
Lee said he was shocked by the woman’s attitude and that he had never experienced anything like this before.
“This was actually my first time interacting with someone like this and that’s why I was even more surprised,” Lee said, “I see videos like this online, I see it on the news, but it’s not something I would ever imagine happening to me or anybody I know.”
Two Starbucks baristas intervened.
“I’m sorry, they’re allowed to speak their language,” one of the baristas is heard saying on the recording.
“If you can sit and be quiet, fine, but I don’t wanna hear your language. I don’t wanna hear it,” the identified woman says.
“If you don’t want to hear it… they’re welcome to be here, they’re doing nothing wrong, you’re the one causing an issue,” the Starbucks employee says.
The baristas then called the police, who escorted the woman out of the establishment.
Police reportedly said the woman once again berated An as she was being led out of the coffee house.
The video has been viewed over 800,000 times, and has received many comments very supportive of Lee and his student.
A commenter self-identified as Julie Christi posted: “I am so sorry this happened to you. Please know that we welcome and cherish all of our bright, brilliant international students here.”
Another, Charmaine Stavedahl, stated: “I liked that you gave her a choice in a calm manner re. calling the police, and she didn’t take it. Under her anger is such fear, in the aftermath maybe you can find some compassion, but it is so very hard to do. I think you handled it well. Logical consequences for her bad behavior.”
Lee told KRON he hopes to use the incident to spread awareness overcome bigotry.
“Hopefully, this leads to even more conversations and initiatives,” posted Lee.
Asked about his attitude towards the unidentified woman, Lee says told reporters that he is not resentful and would wish for her to recognize the incident as a good opportunity “to explore the different cultures around herself.”
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