UTICA, N.Y. – A video showing a man shouting racial slurs at a Black woman on Genesee Street in Utica over the weekend has gone viral on social media, and garnered international attention from various media outlets.
Jakeila Phillips posted a video on Saturday of a man, who identified himself as Barry Wardell, saying “Black lives don’t matter,” among other racist comments, while hanging out the passenger side of a vehicle.
Phillips asks Wardell what he does for a living, and he says he is a cook. Wardell was hired by Bon Appetit Management Company in February. Bon Appetit is the contracting food services company at Hamilton College.
The company released the following statement after they were made aware of the video:
“Bon Appétit Management Company was made aware this morning of a video capturing an employee making racist statements. Our HR team is already investigating the incident, and we will take swift and appropriate action.
“Although Bon Appétit Management Company’s usual policy is not to discuss individual personnel matters, because of the extreme and public nature of this act, we can state that the employee in question was hired in February and worked for us for one month before being placed on leave due to COVID-19. Bon Appétit has a zero-tolerance policy regarding racism. We condemn these vile comments whole-heartedly.”
Representatives for Bon Appetit confirmed that Wardell no longer works for the company.
Hamilton College President David Wippman also released the following statement regarding the video;
"A Facebook video came to our attention this morning, showing someone who previously worked at the College as a contract employee of our food services provider making despicable racist slurs. I am appalled by what is on the video. He will not be employed here again and has been banned from our campus effective immediately. The behavior shown on the video is an extreme violation of our community standards and will not be tolerated. We will review our own and our contractors’ employee screening and training policies to be sure appropriate requirements are in place.
I will also reach out to the Utica resident who was the target of this individual's slurs. I want her to know that racism and bigotry of any kind will not be tolerated at Hamilton College.”
Utica Police Department is currently investigating whether any crimes were committed during this incident. UPD also posted a message to their Facebook page, saying, in part, “It is one of the most ignorant things anyone has ever said and is not indicative of the citizens here and the city we are all proud of.”