Another ‘Karen’ found her time in the spotlight last week when a woman named Lisa Alexander approached Jaime Juanillo in front of his home in San Francisco.
Juanillo was stenciling the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ in chalk on the retaining wall of his home in the Pacific Heights neighborhood when Ms. Alexander and her husband stopped to ask him “Is this your property?”
When Juanillo inquired as to the nature of their questions, they told him “it’s private property.”
“Respectfully,” Alexander says to Juanillo, “absolutely your [Black Lives Matter] signs and everything, that’s good, but this is not the way to do it. It’s private property.”
“But if I did live here and it was my property, this would be absolutely fine,” Juanillo responded. “ And you don’t know if I live here or if this is my property.”
With the tone of an elementary school teacher, Alexander raises her finger gently to her chin and says, “Yes, we do know. Because we know the person that does live here.”
Juanillo told the couple if they believe he was committing a crime, they should call the police because “I’d be more than happy to talk to them.”
The couple continued to ask Juanillo’s name and he refused to give them that information saying, “You’re the ones asking me questions.”
Alexander – “But we’re not doing anything illegal.”
Juanillo – “Neither am I.”
Alexander – “Actually, you are.”
And so, Lisa Alexander and her husband, who shared his name is Robert, walked off and called the police.
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
— James Juanillo (@jaimetoons) June 12, 2020
They would later be mortified when the police pulled up to the residence and it became clear the officers knew Jaime Juanillo, and he did indeed live in that home.
In fact, as Juanillo recently shared with local station KQED, he married his husband in the backyard of the home and had lived there for 18 years.
Juanillo, who is of Filipino descent, told KQED, “It’s not unusual at all for me to get a look like, ‘Do you belong here?’”
He says he held his composure during the incident because one, he knew he had a right to be there, and two, he realized the couple’s intentions were more about race and less about chalk.
“Lisa and Robert knew it was chalk art, and that it was going to be washed away in the first rain,” Juanillo said. So, the issue wasn’t ‘destroying property’ but the Black Lives Message itself.
“And once I knew that,” he said, “I can act how I needed to act. It was simple after that.”
“They’re wrong,” he added. “And they rode that racial bias all the way off a cliff.”
Juanillo says in hindsight, he’s struck by how far Alexander was taking the issue.
“You can presume that she knew by calling the police that I could possibly die,” said Juanillo. “She was OK with that. Even knowing that I was just working with chalk, she’s willing to call men with guns.”
Juanillo considered not posting the video of the encounter for a short while. But later in the day, while standing in his living room, he saw the couple pass by again. He knocked on the window hoping to grab their attention.
“If they had come up to my door and they had apologized, I would have accepted it, not posted this. And they could have kept their businesses and lives intact,” Juanillo told KQED. “It was all up to them: Action after action after action.”
But instead of admitting they’d been wrong, Juanillo says, “The look on their faces was total mortification” as they kept walking by the home.
He says he shared the video because he wanted people to see the more subtle racist conflicts that happen in an effort to help educate white people that they even exist.
“If enough people see incidents like this, then maybe people will actually think about it and change their behavior,” Juanillo said. He also addressed those on social media who said he should have argued or engaged in the conflict.
“Do you really think they’re going to believe me if I point out a $10 million house and say I live there?” Juanillo said.
A note from the Birchbox Team regarding Lisa Alexander and LAFACE. pic.twitter.com/CZSpBQegeA
— Birchbox (@birchbox) June 13, 2020
In the aftermath of the viral video, Lisa Alexander was informed the beauty subscription company Birchbox severed ties with her skincare company LAFACE.
She also issued a public apology for “being disrespectful” to Juanillo stating, “I should have minded my own business.”
#BlackLivesMatter | Lisa Alexander says she wants to apologize directly to Mr. Juanillo: ⬇️
“The last 48 hours have taught me that my actions were those of someone who is not aware of the damage caused by being ignorant”
— Luz Peña (@LuzPenaABC7) June 14, 2020
She goes on to write, “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.”
Additionally, her husband, identified as Robert Larkins, was dismissed from his position at the financial firm Raymond James on Monday.
— Raymond James (@RaymondJames) June 15, 2020