A disagreement over a Black Lives Matter flag in Austin, Texas, is attracting attention after a homeowner urged a woman, who he said had been yelling at neighbors for half an hour, to get off his property by hosing her down with a sprinkler.
Video of the confrontation was originally posted on Reddit and the footage has since been widely shared on Facebook and Twitter. The blog Men’s Corner posted the footage to its Twitter account with the comment, “Karen gets the hose for trying to tell a homeowner what he can and can’t do in his own yard.” That post had generated more than 411,000 views as of this writing.
Heavy spoke with the homeowner, Ian Doherty, over the phone about what prompted the soggy confrontation.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Doherty Said the Woman Yelled at His Neighbor to Remove a Black Lives Matter Flag & Shouted ‘White Lives Matter’ Multiple Times
The confrontation happened on October 7, Doherty told Heavy. He explained that he had a front-row seat to the argument because he has been working from home and his home office has a view of the street.
Doherty said the woman parked her vehicle in the middle of the street and confronted another one of his neighbors who had a Black Lives Matter flag on her front yard. He said the woman demanded that his neighbor take the flag down because it violated some sort of neighborhood regulation. Doherty explained to Heavy that his block is not regulated by a homeowners association.
Doherty said the woman who prompted the political dispute lived in the neighborhood and had a pro-Trump sign on her own property. Doherty said although he had never personally met the woman or seen her before, his neighbor did know her. The two women had apparently been acquainted for several years, dating back to high school.
Doherty said his neighbor yelled back at the woman and that the exchange went on for about 30 minutes. He added that during the argument, the woman shouted “white lives matter” and “all lives matter” multiple times.
While this was going on, Doherty said a few other neighbors ventured outside to ask the woman to calm down but that the woman was “so worked up that she just yells at them.” Doherty explained that one of the other neighbors who approached the woman was a Black man who asked the woman if she believed his life mattered.
Doherty also approached the woman himself to ask her to “move along” because she was upsetting his child, he said. Doherty explained the woman briefly lashed out at him before resuming the argument about the Black Lives Matter flag. Doherty told Heavy about his motivation for stepping in: “You can’t go around screaming racist stuff. And I won’t stand for it.”
2. The Woman Approached Doherty’s Property After He Started Spraying Both His Yard & the Street With the Sprinkler
Doherty told Heavy that from his vantage point, the argument between the woman and his neighbor appeared to be escalating as it went on. He explained the woman was “standing in the middle of the street yelling at everybody.”
Doherty decided to start watering his lawn amid the fight. After turning the water on, Doherty also sprayed the street. He told Heavy, “So I’m watering the street and the yard and just kind of hoping to, just cool the situation down, just to get her out of here.”
Doherty said the woman turned to him and said she did not mind the water and that her car “needs to be washed anyway.” Doherty said he responded by asking the woman again to move along. He said he told her, “I don’t want any trouble. I just want you to leave.”
Instead of leaving, Doherty said that’s when the woman approached him on his property.
3. Doherty Said the Woman Warned Him About Spraying Her With the Water
Doherty explained that as the woman approached his yard, she adopted a “tough” demeanor and demanded that he turn the sprinkler off. Doherty said he told the woman she was on his property and asked her to leave his yard. He said she responded by warning him against spraying her. Doherty recalled the woman said something along the lines of, “Spray me with the hose and see what happens.”
In the clip shared online, it’s challenging to hear all of the exact words the two exchanged. But after Doherty turned the sprinkler on the woman, it’s very clear what happened next.
The woman runs after Doherty and attempts to grab the sprinkler out of his hands. She slips on the grass as Doherty moves away from her. This dance continues for at least 30 more seconds as the woman tries and fails to get closer to Doherty as he keeps spraying her. The neighbors who were recording are heard on the video giggling and remarking, “Go home, girl” and “You’re going to lose that battle.”
4. Doherty Eventually Handed the Woman the Sprinkler & Went Back Inside His House
The video posted on Reddit does not include what happened after the water fight. Doherty explained to Heavy that the woman eventually moved within about a foot of him. He told her he didn’t want to stand that close to her due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Doherty said he simply handed the woman the sprinkler, turned off the water and then walked back inside his house. “I finished my day. I had a call for work so I just basically ended it there.”
Doherty told Heavy that he and one of his neighbors called the police. He explained that he was not home when officers eventually arrived but that his wife spoke to them. Doherty said his understanding was that the officers were told that the situation had calmed and they left.
The woman ultimately apologized to the neighbor with the Black Lives Matter flag, Doherty explained. As he later told KXAN-TV, the woman had apparently been upset that the BLM flag was more prominently displayed than the American flag. The neighbor, who was not identified by name, told KXAN-TV that if the woman had been more respectful in addressing her concerns, the situation could have been resolved much more calmly.
Doherty told Heavy he was initially hesitant about posting the video online, which was recorded by another neighbor. He ultimately decided to share it after a group of mothers in the neighborhood encouraged him to do so.
Doherty has also received a lot of positive commentary on Facebook. After a few viewers offered to help him pay his water bill, Doherty started a GoFundMe campaign. He wrote on the page that a “percentage of all donations will go to BLM.” As of this writing, the page had raised $555.
5. In Texas, Homeowners Are Legally Allowed to Use Force to Prevent Someone From Trespassing on Private Property
The right to protect private property is a serious matter in Texas. According to the state’s legal code, a homeowner is legally permitted to use force to prevent an unwelcome person from trespassing if they feel it is necessary. Section 9.41 explains:
PROTECTION OF ONE’S OWN PROPERTY. (a) A person in lawful possession of land or tangible, movable property is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the other’s trespass on the land or unlawful interference with the property.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been met with a mixed response in Texas. According to a survey conducted by the Texas Politics Project in June, 42% of Texans responded that they looked favorably on the movement. But 43% said they held an unfavorable view.