Hans Berglund is the CEO of an Arizona company who was caught on video using the n-word during a racist rant against a black Uber driver in Tempe. Randy Clarke, a 25-year-old Arizona State University student, was picking up Berglund for a ride when the 71-year-old CEO became upset that Clarke wouldn’t let him sit in the front seat of his SUV, Clarke’s attorneys say.
Clarke has dashboard cameras in his SUV and they captured the entire incident. Berglund first told Clarke he was going to cancel the ride and then tried to force him to drive him after getting into the backseat. When Clarke told Berglund to leave his Uber, Berglund erupted and used racist slurs and vulgarities in a rant against the driver, before leaving. Clarke’s filed a complaint with Uber and the company has said it is investigating.
The incident happened on Friday, January 31, 2020, about 9 p.m., Clarke said. Berglund is the CEO of Agroplasma Inc., a Tempe-based fertilizer supplier. Clarke has filed or plans to file complaints with Uber, the Tempe Human Rights Commission and Arizona’s attorney general.
Berglund could not be reached for comment by Heavy, but he told ABC15 in a statement, “I deeply regret and apologize for the hurtful and derogatory language I used during the altercation with Mr. Clarke. I firmly believe that there is no excuse for the use of racial slurs under any circumstance, so I will not offer any. It is my sincere hope that Mr. Clarke hears and accepts my apology and believes me when I say it is honest and heartfelt.”
On February 5, Agroplasma announced Berglund would be suspended from his current role with the company and its general manager would assume the position of interim CEO. The company said, “In light of the events of this past Friday, Agroplasma CEO Hans Berglund has been relieved of his duties while the company performs a full internal investigation. The incident is not at all reflective of Agroplasma’s values and ethics. Our relationships with our employees, customers and the community are the cornerstones of our success, and we are doing everything in our power to rebuild their trust and repair the harm that has resulted from this incident.”
Randy Clarke said in a statement, “I do not accept Mr. Berglund’s digital apology. It is wrapped in insincerity and so is AgroPlasma’s statement on his alleged firing. Suspension and firing are two different things. I also am consulting with my lawyer, David Dow, to determine my rights and next steps. We want justice and we want reconciliation. That begins with transparency and Mr. Berglund and his company sitting down to meet us.”
Uber said in a statement, “Discrimination has no place on the Uber app or anywhere. What’s been described is a clear violation of our Community Guidelines and we launched an investigation as soon as we learned of it.” Clarke told ABC15 that Uber said Berglund’s account has been temporarily placed on hold.
Here’s what you need to know about Hans Berglund and the incident with Uber driver Randy Clarke:
1. Hans Berglund Asked Randy Clarke If He Was Kicking Him Out of His Uber ‘Because I’m White’ & Then Called Him a ‘F*cking N*gger,’ the Video Shows
The video of the incident, which can be seen above, shows Uber driver Randy Clarke arriving at Hans Berglund’s gated community to pick him up. About 2:30 into the video, Berglund approaches Clarke’s SUV and tries to get into the front door. Clarke says to Berglund, “Do you mind sitting in the back?” Berglund replies, “No, I don’t like to sit there,” and Clarke tells him he doesn’t like people sitting up front.
Berglund can be heard saying, “I can’t sit there? Then I will order something else.” Clarke tells him, “sounds good,” as Berglund changes his mind and says, “are you f*cking serious with me?” and gets into the back seat of Clarke’s SUV against his wishes after Clarke tells him he will cancel the ride and refund him.
Berglund ignores Clarke and says, “I’m going to ride in the back and file a complaint. I have a right to make my own options.” Clarke tells Berglund, “I’m an independent contractor and I have the right to deny this ride.” Berglund then says, “no,” when told to leave the vehicle. He then says, “Is that because I’m white? And you’re a f*cking n*gger?”
Clarke then tells Berglund he was being recorded on two dashcams as Berglund exits the SUV. According to Clarke, he has signs posted on his SUV and his Uber driver profile about the front seat rule.
According to a statement, it is “a policy Clarke practices after having been sexually assaulted in 2018 by a male passenger who grabbed his crotch while he was driving the vehicle. Clarke has clearly printed signs detailing this policy and why he prefers that customers ride in the backseat. Uber authorized the rule after the sexual assault to limit the risk of Clarke being sexually assaulted by any other passengers.”
Reverend Jarrett Maupin, a civil rights activist who is supporting Clarke, said in a statement to Heavy on February 5, “Hans Berglund is the CEO of several enterprises and he knows that his conduct is unacceptable and that a public apology – face to face – is merited here. To date, Berglund continues to hide behind his lawyer and shirk all accountability for his racist and hateful fit of anger. Until he agrees to meet with us, we will make known his racist behavior. His suppliers, his business partners, whomever he does business with will hear about what he did to Mr. Clarke and what kind of a bigoted bully he is.”
Berglund told the Phoenix New Times on February 5 that he made a huge mistake and regrets his actions, adding, “I hate what happened, I hate what I said, I’m not a racist at all, whatsoever. I created a huge huge problem for me, my family, and my company, and it’s absolutely awful how it’s been blown up.”
Maupin said Berglund’s “racism” was “advanced and intentional,” and dismissed his claim that the use of the n-word was accidental or that it did not come from a hateful place. Maupin added, “Their failed attempt at explaining how racist they are not has only added insult to injury. They need to stop.”
After Berglund was suspended by his company, Maupin added, “Suspending a CEO for calling a black Uber driver a f#%*-ing nigger is unacceptable. AgroPlasma’s statement indicates Hans Berglund may return to his former role pending the results of a so-called internal investigation. Clearly, an internal investigation by AgroPlasma carries little weight within the Black community and other communities of color and conscious. We still have complaints from current employees that Berglund practiced racism against them in the workplace. And that is on top of the Uber incident.”
Maupin continued, “We continue to demand a sit-down meeting worth Berglund and AgroPlasma. We demand it immediately. Until we have such a meeting we will continue to make sure nobody in local government does business with AgroPlasma and that their corporate partners know who they are and who they employ. In 2020, there is zero tolerance for racism in corporate America and absolutely no excusing a CEO’s racist attack on a meek and humble, black, Uber driving student.”
2. Berglund, Who Was Charged With a DUI in 2013, Started Agroplasma Inc in 2004 & Has Called His Company a ‘Unique Immigration Story’
Hans Berglund founded the fertilizer supply company Agroplasma Inc. in 2004 in Tempe, according to its website. The company sells the Ferticell product line. According to Organic Produce Network, the Agroplasma is a leading supplier of organic fertilizer to the U.S. market.
Berglund said American immigration laws are what led him to the company. “The truth is, I had to invest $1 million in a U.S. business or I couldn’t stay in the United States,” he told the OPN Connect Newsletter in 2018.
According to OPN, Berglund was retired when he founded the company and was golfing every day and dreaming of joining the PGA’s Senior Tour. “I came to the United States on a combination work/tourist visa. In the 1990s, nobody ever checked and I just stayed. 9/11 changed everything,” Berglund told the newsletter.
Berglund said in the early 2000s he and his wife wanted to raise their 2-year-old daughter in the United States and sought help from Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and Jeb Bush, his friends, to help, but, “They couldn’t help me and told me to get an immigration lawyer.” His lawyer said he should start a business to stay in the U.S. “That’s how it really works. I looked at starting a car wash or a restaurant featuring Swedish meatballs,” Berglund said. But a friend then pointed him to Agroplasma and he started that.
About 10 years later, Berglund became a U.S. citizen.
Berglund was arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2013 on a charge of driving under the influence and reckless driving. He eventually pleaded guilty to reckless driving and the DI charge was dropped by the Scottsdale city attorney. He was also cited on a defensive driving accusation in 2009.
3. Berglund Went By ‘Hasse Z’ as a DJ in Sweden & Founded a Record Label Called Mr. Music
Hans Berglund is originally from Uppsala, Sweden, and attended Eriksbergsskolan, according to his Facebook profile. While in Sweden, Berglund was involved in the music industry and went by the name DJ Hasse Z and Hasse Z Berglund, according to his Facebook profile. He founded a record label called Mr. Music.
Berglund was also involved in the car racing and car collection scene in Sweden, and was a driver himself, according to Racing Sports Cars. He competed in four events from 1999 to 2000.
According to the Organic Produce Network, “First and foremost a musician, Berglund started a record company called Mr. Music that featured compilations of hits by artists from around the world. He would contract with top artists cherry-picking a few songs of various albums creating a mixed tape. He sold the CDs through a monthly subscription with his customers receiving a new CD each month. Berglund started the company in Sweden in 1982 and moved to the United States in 1989. He grew the subscriber list to 450,000 monthly subscribers before selling the record company in 1992 for a princely sum which allowed for full retirement in Arizona.”
Berglund’s company, started in 1982, also sold compilation cassettes via mail order, and then switched to selling CDs. The company shut down in 2006, according to Discogs.
Berglund lives in Arizona with his wife and young daughter, and is also involved in local horse stables and clubs.
4. Hans Berglund Has Made Contributions to President Trump’s Campaign & to the Republican National Committee & Has Shared Conservative & Anti-Obama Posts on Facebook
Hans Berglund has posted about his conservative political views in the past, including attacks on former President Barack Obama and Rep. Ilhan Omar. In one post, from January, he said Omar should be impeached (members of Congress cannot be impeached). In another, he shared a list of what claim to be scandals from the Obama administration.
Federal election records show that Berglund is a supporter of President Donald Trump and has made contributions to his campaign in the past. Berglund contributed $500 to the “Trump Make America Great Again Committee” in April 2018. He also contributed $375 to Donald J. Trump for President Inc. that same month. In August 2019, Berglund contributed $75 to Donald J. Trump for President Inc., FEC records show.
Berglund also contributed $250 in July 2019 to the Republican National Committee and $300 in June 2012 to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
5. Randy Clarke’s Attorneys Say Berglund’s Apology Lacks ‘All Sincerity & Substance’ & Say He Is a ‘Threat to Public Safety & Ordinary Black Citizens’
Randy Clarke’s attorney, David Dow, said in a statement that Hans Berglund’s apology, is “lacking all sincerity and substance.” He said businesses that work with Berglund will be “put on notice.”
Clarke told ABC15 he takes pride in his Uber rides, “Inside the car, I got two iPads for games and music. You got the drinks, the snacks, super clean.” He said he has provided more than 1,400 rides and has a nearly perfect rating.
Civil rights activist Jarret Maupin said in a statement to Heavy, “Hans Berglund is an old racist. He is not some ignorant child. He is a CEO. He knows right from wrong. Period. No excuse.”
Maupin said, “We want ASU and Uber to file a restraining orders against Hans Berglund. Uber should ban him from using their service, for life. There should be a zero tolerance policy for Uber passengers who attack their drivers with disgusting racist words. Hans Berglund is a threat to public safety and ordinary Black citizens.”