At the facilities of the Celsius Tennis Academy, the Bath & Racquet Fitness Club, the two minors were expelled by a white man sitting at an adjoining table who turned out to be a local politician. The teenagers recorded a good part of the situation, which happened before Thanksgiving.
"You sent me to cut the grass because I'm Hispanic," says one of the young men. "You said it, man, you said we cut the grass!", the other teenager shouts.
The man, identified later as Martin Hyde, candidate for the Commission of the city of Sarasota, responds in that part of the exchange: "Yes, so what?"
"That's racism, man; how can you say something like that? Aren't you human?" Shouts one of the young tennis players.
The children's identities have been preserved because families do not want their names known. Both teenagers are already in Puerto Rico and one of them told Twitter part of the incident.
Javier Irizarry, a relative of one of the children, spoke with Latino Rebels, media that reported the incident on November 29. He said the two children were speaking in Spanish before starting to record the video. Then, They point out that Hyde listened to them and told the children to shut up and mow the lawn.
Angel Diaz is the tennis teacher – also Puerto Rican – of the children who recorded the incident, and was the adult responsible for them on this trip. He said to Univision Noticias the same thing: that at the time of the incident the children spoke in Spanish and that as their voices were heard in a video that Hyde was recording, he began to attack them. "He sent them to shut up with racist comments."
Diaz was in the club, in the changing room area when the incident happened. When the children are removed from the club "very aggressively," they call Diaz.
"The children were humiliated. They ran from the club making him think that the man was practically the owner of the club," he says.
"I left the club first to attend to the boys and reassure them and asked to speak with that person," he says. At that moment, they meet again with the man near the entrance, in a parking lot in front of the courts.
"And that's when the man was very rude to me too, he kept telling me that he was a very important person, that he had a lot of money, that this was a private club and he reserved the right of admission, that the children could not be there because they speak very loudly … and he sent me to shut up. I wondered who I am. "
$ 50,000 for the video
While this conversation was going on the children were crying, Diaz tells Univision News while Hyde told them that "he would not apologize."
The situation became increasingly aggressive and then the children point out that they have a video recorded with the whole situation.
"He became more aggressive, said that 'if it is true that the video exists, I pay them $ 50,000 right now if you show me the video,'" Diaz details. "After that I told the boys to leave, that the man was too aggressive."
Diaz and the children returned to the club to look for their belongings to leave, but the man again does not allow them to enter. They had to come back later, once the man was gone.
"He had never gone through such a situation … and then we realized that he was a politician, so how dare he abuse and humiliate some children?" Says Diaz.
Martin Hyde denied having done anything racist in a talk with the local newspaper Herald Tribune
"I didn't say anything that is racist … There is absolutely no evidence or truth at all," said Hyde. He added that his answer "yes, so what?" It was not an acknowledgment that he had made the comment of "mowing the lawn", but that he responded to another accusation.
"I was rude and, yes, it is not appropriate," he acknowledged.
In principle, Hyde made it clear that he would give up his career in the newspaper interview, but then, in a Facebook post this Sunday, he said he would "reconsider."
"I would like to thank those who have offered me support in the last 48 hours. A significant number have asked me to reconsider my decision to retire from the race in 2020, so I will do that. It is not that I do not regret my behavior, but I also have some knowledge of who I really am and the best place to show it is publicly, " wrote.
On the other hand, Celsius Academy reported that it has no direct link to the incident since it rents the club's tennis courts. In a statement to that media, he said "we would never allow that comment."
Club manager Michael Brandon said they permanently removed the member and was already notified. "Bath and Racquet definitely does not represent racism at all or any kind of actions like that, especially towards children."
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