Woman apologises for telling man he was illegally defacing his own home with ‘Black Lives Matter’ slogan

James Juanillo chalked 'Black Lives Matter' on his own wall – and was accused of illegal action by someone who assumed he didn't live there: AP
James Juanillo chalked ‘Black Lives Matter’ on his own wall – and was accused of illegal action by someone who assumed he didn’t live there: AP

A San Francisco woman who questioned a man writing “Black Lives Matter” on his own home has apologised for assuming he did not live there and calling the police on him.

“I want to apologise directly to Mr Juanillo,” Ms Alexander said in a statement. “There are not enough words to describe how truly sorry I am for being disrespectful to him last Tuesday when I made the decision to question him about what he was doing in front of his home. I should have minded my own business.”

In the video, shot by James Juanillo on his phone, Ms Alexander is seen asking Mr Juanillo, who is Filipino, whether he lives in the house, saying that he is defacing private property as he uses chalk to write words on his wall.

Mr Juanillo in turn asks the couple whether they know the person who lives in the house, and Ms Alexander claims she does. (The owner of the building, from whom Mr Juanillo rents his residence, has since said he has never met her.)

She tells Mr Juanillo that while the signs themselves are acceptable, “this is not the way to do it,” and that he is breaking the law. At the end of their tense exchange, he challenges her to call the police, and she says she will.

As she walks away, Mr Juanillo – who refers to Ms Alexander as “Karen” – says “and that is why Black Lives Matter”.

The police were reportedly called, only for the attending officer to leave after recognising Mr Juanillo as a familiar resident.

Speaking to local media, Mr Juanillo described what Ms Alexander did as an everyday variety of racism. “It’s polite racism, it’s respectable racism – ‘respectfully sir, I don’t think you belong here at all.’”

Ms Alexander, who is the founder and CEO of a cosmetics company, has seen distributors cut ties with her in the wake of the incident.

In her statement, she said that the time since the video went viral “has taught me that my actions were those of someone who is not aware of the damage being caused by being ignorant and naive to racial inequalities. “When I watch the video I am shocked and sad that I behaved the way I did,” she says.

“I am taking a hard look at the meaning behind white privilege and am committed to growing from this experience. I would love to have coffee with Mr Juanillo in our neighbourhood so I can apologise in person and share a dialogue where I can continue to learn and grow and be a better person.”