The cellphone video shows a woman waiting for a cashier at a J.C. Penney store, shouting racist and discriminatory remarks at another customer who had apparently cut the line.
In that moment, which was captured on camera at a store at Jefferson Mall in Louisville, the belligerent woman screamed at the accused line-cutter, who is apparently Hispanic, to “go back to wherever the f– you come from, lady.”
“Hey, tell them to go back where they belong,” she then told the cashier. “If they come here to live, then act like everybody else. Get in the back of the line like everybody else does – and be somebody. And that’s the way I look at it.”
J.C. Penney and mall administrators said they are working to identify the woman seen screaming in the video, as well as the two women who were on the receiving end of her rant.
“You’re . . . nobodies,” the woman told them. “Just because you come from another country, that don’t make you nobody. You’re nobody, as far as I’m concerned. Probably on welfare. The taxpayers probably paid for all that stuff.”
As the video went viral, Jefferson Mall administrators said in a statement that once the combative customer has been identified “she will be permanently banned from Jefferson Mall, per our Behavioral Code of Conduct.”
And J.C. Penney said in a statement that company officials were “deeply disturbed” by what they had seen in the clip that was recorded by a bystander and uploaded to Facebook.
“We regret that innocent bystanders – both other customers and a JCPenney associate – were subjected to such discriminatory remarks,” a company spokesman said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We absolutely do not tolerate this behavior in our stores, and are working with our associates to ensure any future incidents of this nature will be addressed quickly and appropriately.”
J.C. Penney is also “asking for the community’s help in identifying the two women who were targeted for such remarks, as we would like to reimburse them for their entire purchase and offer a sincere apology for their experience.”
The video was posted Tuesday by Facebook user Renee Buckner, who said she made the video public “to expose this racism in America/Louisville.”
It was viewed more than 5 million times before Buckner apparently deleted the video Wednesday afternoon, along with her Facebook account.
Buckner did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. But according to her since-deleted account of the incident, “this Hispanic lady was purchasing items and the transaction was almost complete, then her friend brings up some shirts to be added to her purchase instead of getting in line. And this lady went off!!!”
She had warned that the video contained explicit language and added: “FYI. . .this wasn’t the entire scene, people tried to let her know it was out of order, but she wasn’t hearing that.”
The video started after the customer who became the target of the tirade apparently moved to the front of the line to join her friend – enraging the woman she cut off, who began shouting that the line “starts back there.”
“And it don’t bother me if I say it, and I don’t care if everybody hears me,” the woman started to shout. “I think everybody here probably feels the same damn way I do.”
She went on, yelling profanities at the woman – prompting a cashier to admonish her, saying: “Watch your language.”
She continued, addressing the cashier, and then the crowd, insinuating that the two women she was yelling at were probably on welfare and that taxpayers were probably picking up the tab.
“We probably paid for every bit of that stuff – you know that?” she said. “Probably all the food they get and everything else. I’m sorry, but that’s the way I feel.”
One of the women she was yelling at then nodded.
“That’s OK, speak English,” the ranter shouted in response. “You’re in America. If you don’t know it, learn it. And I’m sorry that I’m that way, but you all need to realize you’re not the only ones around here.”
Buckner was shopping Tuesday evening when she stumbled upon the scene, a pastor who said he is speaking for Buckner told the Courier-Journal.
The Rev. Timothy Findley, with the Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center in Louisville, said Buckner posted the footage on Facebook and was immediately overwhelmed by the response.
“We all shared the same reaction: shock, disappointment, but not surprised,” Findley told the newspaper.
In her Facebook post, Buckner said that if people ignore racism, “it will never go away.”
“It’s sad that we are still being subjected to racism in this country,” she wrote in a subsequent (and since-deleted) post. “But what is even more sad is the fact that so many people don’t know Christ. We wouldn’t have so much hate, if more people had a relationship with Christ.”
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Wednesday on Twitter that he was “sad and disappointed” by what had occurred.
“This is not who we are, and on behalf of our community, I apologize to the two women who were treated in such a horrible way,” he wrote. “I hope this video prompts many discussions among families as they gather for the holidays this week. Discussions about basic human values, dignity and respect.”
“As a country of immigrants, we must understand we only move forward through peace, acceptance and embracing those who are different from us,” Fischer continued. “These are basic American values protected in our Constitution, values embraced in this welcoming, compassionate community.”
Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell told the Courier-Journal that he the incident “could rise to the level of criminal conduct” if the two victims of the racist rant decide to take legal action.