Amber Lynn Gilles: San Diego ‘Karen’ Goes Viral Over Starbucks Incident

Amber Lynn Gilles

Facebook Amber Lynn Gilles has been called a "Karen" after trying to shame a Starbucks barista who asked her if she had a face mask.

Amber Lynn Gilles is the California woman who claimed she was refused service at a Starbucks for not wearing a face mask and is now facing a backlash after her Facebook post about it went viral. In San Diego County, public health officials have mandated that anyone over the age of two is required to wear a face covering in public to avoid spreading the coronavirus unless they have a medical condition that prevents them from doing so.

Gilles, who has been referred to online as a San Diego “Karen,” shared a picture of the barista who she said would not serve her on June 22. She wrote that “next time I will wait for cops” and later told NBC San Diego that she felt she was discriminated against at the coffee shop.

The barista, identified as Lenin Gutierrez, countered in a video explanation that he simply asked Gilles whether she had a mask before she became angry with him. A GoFundMe campaign launched in support of Gutierrez raised more than $100,000. Gilles says she wants half of that money and that she plans to hire a lawyer. Read more about that update here.
Here’s what you need to know:

1. Gilles Says She Has Received Death Threats Since Posting Gutierrez’s Picture

san diego karen Amber Gilles


Gilles posted a picture of Gutierrez on Facebook along with the address of the Starbucks in San Diego. In the post, she implied she had a medical reason for not wearing a mask but did not elaborate. She wrote, “Meet lenen from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption.”

The post went viral, but the reactions took off in a different direction than Gilles was likely expecting. Thousands of commenters jumped to Gutierrez’s defense and slammed Gilles for attempting to shame him for doing his job. Some remarked that if she didn’t want to wear a mask, she could have used the drive-thru.

Gilles has doubled down on her stance. A few hours after sharing the picture, she posted that she was not bothered by the negative attention. “I am not scarred or bothered by your ignorant fraud ass’s, not so sorry you losers got nothing better to do. thanks for the ratings ✌🏻you all act like the terrorist organization you are.”

Gilles spoke with NBC San Diego a few days after the incident. She told the TV station she has received thousands of death threats since the post went viral and that it was “very upsetting” and “very scary.” Gilles insisted she “never threatened” Gutierrez but merely “called him out on his actions.”

2. Gutierrez Said Gilles Started Cursing at Him After He Asked Whether She Had a Face Mask

Lenin Gutierrez shared his side of the story in a video posted to Facebook. He explained that when Gilles came into the store without a mask, he asked her if she had one. She responded “no” and said that she did not need one.

Gutierrez explained that he intended to show Gilles the order stating that Starbucks is required to ask customers to wear face masks, adding “but we can still help.” But Gutierrez said he was prevented from saying that to Gilles because she started “cursing up a storm” at him.

He said Gilles “called people sheep” and left the store, only to return minutes later to take a picture of him. Gutierrez said Gilles threatened to call the corporate office and was “cursing some more at everyone” before leaving again. The Washington Post reported that after sharing his side of the story on Facebook, Gutierrez’s manager asked him not to discuss the incident publicly any further.

Starbucks has responded with a statement urging customers to wear masks at its stores. A spokesperson told FOX Business, “We want everyone to feel welcome in our stores. We respectfully request customers follow social distancing and safety protocols recommended by public health officials, including wearing a facial covering when visiting our stores.”

3. Report: Gilles Wants a Portion of the Proceeds Raised for Gutierrez on GoFundMe

After Gilles’ Facebook post went viral, several commenters praised Gutierrez for doing his job and remarked that they wanted to leave him a tip. A man named Matt Cowan created a fundraiser for Gutierrez on GoFundMe. Cowan wrote on the page, “Raising money for Lenin for his honorable effort standing his ground when faced with a Karen in the wild.” He added that all donations were “personal gifts” to Gutierrez.

Cowan told ABC San Diego he was stunned that the fundraiser took off in the way that it did. He initially set a $1,000 goal and thought even that amount would be “a reach.” But the campaign exploded in popularity. As of this writing, the page has raised more than $100,000 for Gutierrez. Cowan told the TV station, “Everybody is rallying around somebody for doing what they’re supposed to do and trying to protect everyone else. It just goes to show you there are a lot of good people out there and that outweighs the bad.”

Gutierrez has expressed gratitude for the donations on social media. He says he plans to use the money to pursue his dream of becoming a dancer and a dance teacher.

Gilles, meanwhile, is angered over the GoFundMe campaign. According to NBC San Diego, Gilles intends to file a lawsuit against Cowan for “defamation and slander.” She also told the network she wants a portion of the money that was raised.

4. Gilles: ‘It Starts With Coffee’ but Ends With ‘Forced Vaccinations’

Gilles expressed to NBC San Diego that she feels the rules about wearing masks in public are the start of a slippery slope. She told the network, “It starts with coffee but it ends with mandatory digital certificates and the mark of the beast and all of that forced vaccinations stuff. And you all know what I’m talking about.”

Gilles describes herself on Facebook as a “Mother • Photographer • Yoga Instructor • Activist • Artist.” She has shared anti-vaccination messages on Facebook and has expressed concern about contact tracing measures used to combat the spread of the coronavirus. She wrote on May 25 that contact tracing is a violation of privacy. “If your ok with this, you be the first to be forced separated from your family then. This should frighten everyone. I’m about to throw my cell out. I cannot believe I am paying Verizon to be tracked and spied on. We should call our phone companies and threaten to boycott if they share our private information.”

On April 25, Gilles shared a picture of herself wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and expressed her concern about stay-at-home orders in California. She wrote, “”Not complying with aggressive tyrannical government over reach, useless masks, mandatory vaccines, the closure of small businesses, parks, schools, social distancing, 5g, the deep and police state.”

Gilles has commented on the Black Lives Matter movement as well. She has argued on Facebook that “whites are the most silenced, shamed, insulted, hated race there is and it’s socially acceptable for all black and bi racial and white peoples to rant riot and loot over.”

She went on, “It’s not like they got a president, or dominated sports, entertainment, & music industry, o they also have affirmative action giving them free handouts. Putting millions of qualified white people at a disadvantage for full ride scholarships to private and state universities, but also in career and job markets as well. Your a f*cking moron if you still think all white peoples hate POC and are at all as privileged as you think. 🗣Just because I’m not associated with a movement that is going to slaughter it’s own people and mine does not mean I’m racist.”

5. California Governor Gavin Newsom Issued a Statewide Order Mandating Masks Be Worn in Public

california mask order coronavirus

Getty California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order to wear face coverings.

Face masks are now mandatory statewide in California when traveling outside of the home. Governor Gavin Newsom issued the order on June 18 to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The number of cases in the state has continued to rise. The governor argued in a prepared statement that “science shows that face coverings and masks work” and called them “critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy.”

According to the order, masks must be worn in the following situations:

  • Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space
  • Obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank
  • Waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle
  • Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when:
    – Interacting in-person with any member of the public;
    – Working in any space visited by members of the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time;
    – Working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
    – Working in or walking through common areas, such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities;
    – In any room or enclosed area where other people (except for members of the person’s own household or residence) are present when unable to physically distance.
    – Driving or operating any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private car service or ride-sharing vehicle when passengers are present. When no passengers are present, face coverings are strongly recommended.
  • While outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible.

Children under the age of two are exempt from the rule, as well as people with a “medical, mental health, or developmental disability that prevents wearing a face covering.”

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, praised Newsom for the decision. In a recent interview, Fauci reiterated that masks help to prevent an asymptomatic person from unknowingly spreading the virus. “It should not be a political issue. It is purely a public health issue,” Fauci told the Sacramento Press Club. “I think California is starting to see little bits of surges at the community level as you’re opening up. We’ve got to get the population to realize we’re all in this together.”

Officials in San Diego County issued a stricter ruling on June 19. The Health and Human Services Agency mandated that residents should remain at home “except for employees or customers traveling to and from essential businesses, reopened businesses, or essential activities as defined in section 21, below, or to participate in an individual or family outdoor activity as allowed by this Order.”

The order adds that “all restaurants, bars, wineries and breweries shall also be required to ensure their customers comply” with the statewide guidelines, which include face coverings.

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