Viral Black Lives Matter confrontation spurs firing of municipal bond banker
A high-ranking municipal bond banker was fired after being filmed in a viral video in which he questioned a man who chalked the words "Black Lives Matter" on a retaining wall in front of his home.
Robert Larkins, who was a managing director at Raymond James and western region manager for its public finance practice, was fired after James Juanillo, in a video he posted to Twitter, captured the encounter, which began when Lisa Alexander, the CEO of a cosmetics firm, questioned whether Juanillio was chalking the stencil on private property in the wealthy Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.
A white couple call the police on me, a person of color, for stencilling a #BLM chalk message on my own front retaining wall. “Karen” lies and says she knows that I don’t live in my own house, because she knows the person who lives here. #blacklivesmatter pic.twitter.com/rOpHvKVwgP— Jaimetoons (@jaimetoons) June 12, 2020
Larkins joined in to support Alexander, his wife. "Are you defacing private property or is this your property?" he said in the video, while apparently filming the encounter himself with a mobile phone.
On Monday morning, Raymond James announced Larkins' firing with a tweet.
“Raymond James has zero tolerance for racism and discrimination of any kind,” according to a statement. “An inclusive workplace is fundamental to our culture, one in which people are free to bring their whole selves to their careers, and we expect our associates to conduct themselves appropriately inside and outside the workplace.
“After an investigation into the circumstances of a video alleging racism by one of our associates, we have concluded that the actions of he and his partner were inconsistent with our values, and the associate is no longer employed by Raymond James."
Larkins could not immediately be reached for comment.
In an apology statement published by San Francisco's ABC-7, Larkins said: "Over the last two days, I have had my eyes opened wide to my own ignorance of racial inequity, and I have thought a lot about my own personal blind spots. I was wrong to question Mr. Juanillo, and I was wrong to call the neighborhood police watch. It was wrong, and I am profoundly sorry for treating him with disrespect."
A Raymond James spokeswoman said she could not comment on whether an acting western region head had been named to replace Larkins.
Alexander also issued a public apology.
Juanillo, a Filipino American, told local media he has lived there 18 years and believes the couple targeted him because he is a person of color.
Juanillo told the couple to call the police if they thought a crime was being committed. He told reporters the police indeed came by, but the officer recognized him as a long-time resident.
His video of the encounter went viral on social media, stirring echoes of the white woman who falsely reported being threatened by a black male bird watcher in Central Park on Memorial Day, the same day George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, inspiring nationwide protests.
A Stanford graduate, Larkins has spent his entire 36-year career in California. Larkins worked for Wedbush Securities, Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley prior to being named a Raymond James muni banker.