A woman was thrown out of a Starbucks in Walnut Creek, California, earlier this month after she berated two Asian customers with racist insults.
The patron verbally attacked Annie An, a Korean international college student, after she heard An conversing in Korean with her tutor Sean Lee. An caught some video of the incident on her phone and shared it on Facebook.
In her post, An said that before she began recording, the woman told her, “This is America. Use English only.” Later the woman allegedly added, “I don’t want to hear foreign language.”
“… Oriental. I hate it,” the woman can be heard saying in the video.
“I’m sorry, but they’re allowed to speak their language here,” a Starbucks employee is heard responding.
“President Obama said that everyone in here in America … should speak English,” the woman says
“They’re completely allowed to use their own language,” the employee reiterates.
At one point, the woman types on her laptop keyboard and declares, “You’re going to be in trouble when I get this letter out” ― before another customer notes, “You’re pressing numbers over and over again.”
The Starbucks worker repeatedly asks the woman to leave and threatens to call the police.
Eventually police officers arrived ― An wrote that they were called by Starbucks ― and escorted the woman out of the establishment.
The video of the incident has since gone viral with almost 900,000 views as of Tuesday and has been covered by multiple media outlets.
Lee told local news station KRON that he had been discussing an essay with An when the other woman got worked up.
“We didn’t provoke her,” Lee said. “We were just minding our own business. This lady just suddenly says, ‘Don’t you dare say that again.’”
Although the woman’s comments were far from pleasant, they did not stop the pair from continuing to chat in Korean. Lee wrote on Facebook that they “kept speaking in Korean between her freakout and cops arriving, which pissed her off even more.”
Since the incident, people across social media have reached out to An and Lee, offering words of support and solidarity. Grateful for the messages, Lee said he hopes the video can show that bigotry is not a thing of the past.
“In our day-to-day pursuits and responsibilities, it’s all too easy to forget that racism and anti-immigrant sentiments are a real thing in this country, even in the Bay Area that so often touts ‘diversity,’” Lee said on Facebook.
“Imagine this happening to your family and friends. I’ve always cognized this issue, but my first, real-life encounter with racism has brought it to the forefront of my mind. I hope it does the same for you.”