A Filipino American Uber driver was reportedly subjected to racist comments by a passenger at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) earlier this week, according to a viral video.
The incident comes in the midst of an uptick in racism and violent attacks against Asian American communities in the United States.
The driver’s sister, Chelle Anne Alcala, shared the video of the incident on Facebook, which happened around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9, at the LAX-it pick-up location. (The post has since been deleted, as of this writing.)
“Stop Asian Hate!! This hit close to home, as it happened to my brother,” she wrote on Wednesday, March 10. “He is an Uber Driver, waited for his passengers for over 30 minutes at LAX and the father wanted to sit in the front seat. My brother told him that due to COVID, he couldn’t sit in the front seat.”
The passenger has been identified as Kyle Harrington, according to KTLA.
As part of Uber’s safety measures to curb COVID-19, passengers must agree to sit in the back seat and open windows for ventilation. The ride-hailing service also reduced the maximum suggested number of passengers for an UberX ride from four to three.
“The guy got out, slammed the door and yelled at my brother,” continued Alcala.
“My brother informed him that he will just cancel the trip, so the guy wouldn’t get charged. He started yelling more and said, ‘You Asian sh*t. You probably don’t have papers to be here!’” she added.
Alcala also pointed out that an Asian lady came to her brother’s defense.
“Luckily an Asian lady defended my brother,” she noted.
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The witness was identified as Korean American Stella Hwang.
According to NextShark, Hwang was only observing the situation after hearing the passenger, who was with two boys, slam the driver’s door. She decided to defend the driver when the man started to say xenophobic remarks.
“The Uber driver was timid, helpless, and in shock. There was a little bit of a language barrier so I had to say something,” she told NextShark.
Hwang said the police appeared later, but did not write a report about the incident.
“Didn’t bother asking me about my side of the story, didn’t ask if I wanted to file a report, he just said not to engage so that it doesn’t escalate. They came after the fact it already escalated and nothing was done,” she noted.
Airport Police Sgt. Tarek Azmy explained that if there was no crime, there’s “usually no report.”
“As long as there’s no physical contact, which would be a crime, then there’s not much more we can do than try and help them resolve the issue,” he told NextShark.
In response, Uber identified the harassed driver as Mr. David, and condemned the action of the passenger.
“Uber does not tolerate racism or hate in any form, against any community,” a spokesperson said in a statement to NextShark.
“When one community is being attacked, we are all being attacked. We are shocked and saddened by the recent increase in anti-Asian hate, particularly when it affects a driver or rider,” it added.
Uber has since removed the passenger’s access to use the app and contacted David to offer support. (By Ritchel Mendiola / AJPress)