“I just want to let you know what a n****r you are,” said Jeffrey Whitman, the owner of Uriahs Heating, Cooling, & Refrigeration out of Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday afternoon.
Whitman, in his company vehicle, chased Charles Lovett, a young Black man, all the way home to verbally assault him having only seen him on the highway.
Lovett posted the video of the encounter to his Facebook page. It now has nearly 2 million views.
“So this happened to me this morning. A man followed me from the interstate exit to my house and proceeded to berate me with the most disrespectful word to any African American. I wasn’t going to post it, because I felt that I should’ve known and did better in handling the situation, by just walking away and going into my house. But I’m human. Nobody, African American Mexican Puerto Rican deserves what’s been happening to us across the United States here lately. This incident is just one of many sadly,” Lovett wrote.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Whitman Claims Lovett Cut Him Off in Traffic Because he “Feels Entitled”
“Did you just follow me to my house?” Lovett asked Whitman as he got out of his car.
“I just personally want you to know how much of a n****r you are,” said Whitman, accusing Lovett of cutting him off in traffic.
“You’re a rude n****r,” Whitman repeatedly said.
“Actually, you were in the wrong lane, sir,” said Lovett. “You were supposed to turn up Sinclair.”
“No, you cut me off because you feel entitled,” said Whitman.
Activist Shaun King posted the video of the exchange to his Twitter account, where tens of thousands of people have begun to take action.
“Please call the number of the side of this vehicle and let Jeffrey Whitman know how you feel,” wrote King.
Hundreds (possibly thousands) of people have done just that.
2. Whitman Accused Lovett of Not Working or Paying For What he Has
“You pay for any of that?” Whitman asked as he threw his hands towards Lovett’s stuff.
“You see this car? I paid for that,” said Lovett. “I pay all my bills. I work for what I got. I work 40 hours a week.”
Lovett explained to Whitman that he has a college degree, as Whitman continued to ignore his words and insult him, calling him a “rude n****r.”
“This is what you do, you people, your rudeness is unacceptable,” said Whitman.
Lovett graduated from Western Kentucky University with a degree in Political Science, is a member of the WKU Alumni Association Board of Directors and a campus mentor.
3. Whitman Accused Lovett of Not Living in The “Real World”
“I’m glad I’m able to tell you this face to face,” said Whitman.
“You don’t live in the real world. You need to be told that your rudeness is unacceptable.”
“Sir, at the end of the day, I know I did nothing wrong. I stayed in my lane. I did not cut you off, sir,” said Lovett.
“You just think you’re better than somebody,” said Whitman.
Whitman deleted his Facebook account (which had racist photos on it) after becoming inundated by comments concerning his abuse towards Lovett Tuesday afternoon.
4. Lovett Tells Whitman He’s Been Recording And is Going to “Send it to The State”
“I’ve now got all this information that I’m going to send to the state,” said Lovett.
“Since you’re a state contractor, since you work for the state and think you can act like this…enjoy your life, sir.”
Whitman becomes visibly upset and screams, “enjoy your life, cuz you’re pathetic,” and as he speeds off adds, “I’m not afraid!”
It’s unclear whether or not Lovett has pressed charges, but others are calling for justice to be served. Some are leaving messages with Governor Kasich’s office, urging him to stop giving Whitman government contracts.
5. Whitman Released an Apology Only After The Media Pressured Him
ABC 6 and FOX 28 contacted Whitman, asking him to give a statement about his encounter with Lovett.
Whitman refused to go on camera but said in a phone call with ABC 6 that he “lost his head” and regretted what he’d done.
That was after he told WCMH he did not regret using the slur and would not apologize.
When approached by local news station NBC4, Whitman said he had not followed Lovett home.
When asked if he regretted calling Lovett a n****r, Whitman said no.
“I don’t know if it makes it right or wrong, all I can say is I grew up with it and it’s not a big deal for me.”
A day after that interview, Whitman released an official statement of apology, which reads:
To Charles Lovett and the community,
I apologize for my use of the n-word towards Charles Lovett on Tuesday, July 24th. I understand that using the n-word was not only hurtful towards Lovett as an individual, but hurtful towards the Black community at large. Using the word was dehumanizing, unacceptable, and inexcusable. My actions reflect an unhealthy mindset I have developed and I need to work to change. I have served the Black community for the last 9 years, installing furnaces and water heaters with pride.
My actions that day are not a reflection of my feelings towards the Black community. I also understand that racial tensions in America are higher than before, and I regret my part in contributing to that tension. I realize that words are hollow without action, and because of the hurt I have caused, I hope I have the opportunity to give back to the Black community that I have harmed in a meaningful way.