Racist Facebook Post Leads to Regional Businessman’s Ousting

Photo courtesy Michelle Manning

Does social media make it easy for our worst opinions to come out? Facebook acts like a megaphone, making sure anything and everything you post is seen and heard far and wide. But, just imagine if your current boss or future employer finds something on your feed that doesn’t represent your “best” qualities?

For Lafayette businessman Brandon Hargrave, he found this out spectacularly. 

Last Thursday evening, Halloween night, Hargrave – a white man – posted a video of local trick or treaters of color taking candy from a bowl. On the post, he wrote: 

“Starts off with simple sh** like candy, then eventually escalates to stealing guns out of (people’s) cars, selling drugs, joining ‘the system’ and eventually being jailed, shot, killed, etc. This mentality is how it all starts. Immaturity?? Nah. Why didn’t any of the other kids do this??? It’s not a kid thing, it’s a culture thing. Same culture that lands their 8×10 on the front of Auntie’s airbrushed t-shirt while Auntie cries and claims what a perfect person they were their entire life. Lack of character — the cancer of this planet.”

Hargrave ran a Walk-On’s franchise in Covington until his recent racist episode landed when corporate management issued an apology and terminated their relationship with him the following Monday. In a statement, President and COO of Walk-On’s, Scott Taylor, wrote: 

“We have built our company’s foundation on core values of inclusion and equality, and we find any actions or statements to the contrary unacceptable,”

Brandon Hargrave has interests in many local bars and businesses, including Planet Fitness. In an email to the Baton Rouge Fox TV affiliate, he wrote:

“This regrettable action is not a reflection of my values or who I am as a person, my role as an active community member, or as a local business owner — anyone who knows my heart will know this. I respect and value all members of my community. I am remorseful for my thoughtless words, and ask for everyone’s forgiveness.”

This incident, it should go without saying, is not the only one in recent Louisiana memory. 

Two Gretna police officers were fired back in July for posting and liking a satirical news article about Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. One of the former officers, Charlie Rispoli, wrote:

“This vile idiot needs a round…and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve.”

Think before you speak indeed, but it’s good when prejudice and hate receive consequences. 

Bill Arceneaux has been an independent writer and film critic in the New Orleans area since 2011, working with outlets like Film Threat, DIG Baton Rouge, Crosstown Conversations, and Occupy. He is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association and is Rotten Tomatoes approved. Follow him on Twitter: @billreviews

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