Charless Lovett says it all started Tuesday morning because of a disagreement over who had the right of way in a lane on Morse Road. Lovett claims the man got upset with him because he thought Lovett had cut him off on Morse Road in the area of Interstate 71 and Sinclair Road. Lovett says the man nearly sideswiped him trying to cross over from the Sinclair Road lane into the Morse Road lane, and Lovett honked at him.
Lovett says that’s when the man, who was in a Uriahs Heating Cooling Refrigeration work vehicle at the time, followed him to his house in a nearby north Columbus neighborhood. As Lovett got out of his car in his driveway, he began recording on his iPhone as he walked toward the van at the end of his driveway.
In the video, the man says he didn’t follow Lovett to his house, but is headed to a job in the area.
“I just want to let you know what a n****r you are,” the man can clearly be heard saying, after Lovett asked how he can help him.
(WARNING: The video below contains profanity. Viewer discretion advised.)
The man continues, repeating the line multiple times, then tells Lovett, “You’re a rude n****r.”
“So, I’m a n****r because you can’t read street signs right?” Lovett challenges.
The man then argues with Lovett about whether he cut him off, and tells Lovett he feels entitled.
“How do I feel entitled?” Lovett challenges. “You feel entitled because I’m black.”
The confrontation changes, as the worker challenges Lovett’s comments about working for what he has, asking, “You got a job?” and “You paid for that?” in reference to his car.
The nearly three-minute confrontation was all captured on video, as they continue arguing about who had the right of way, with the employee telling Lovett his rudeness is unacceptable and he’s glad he got to tell him that.
“I’m glad I got all this information, that I’ll be sending to the state, since you’re a state contractor,” Lovett says, pointing at the truck that shows Uriahs’ logo. The van also shows a “State Contracting License” text with the company’s license number.
ABC 6/FOX 28 reached out to the company and the driver, Jeffrey Whitman. While he wouldn’t go on camera, Whitman said in a phone call that he’s not a racist and that he regrets it.
He said, “I lost my head.” Whitman added that after Lovett posted the video on Facebook, he began receiving threats. When ABC 6/FOX 28 asked why he would say that word over and over, he hung up.
In a statement, Whitman said
“To Charles Lovett and the community,
I apologize for my use of the n word towards Charles Lovett on Tuesday, July 24th. I understand that using the n-word was not only hurtful towards Lovett as an individual, but hurtful towards the Black community at large. Using the word was dehumanizing, unacceptable, and inexcusable. My actions reflect an unhealthy mindset I have developed and I need to work to change. I have served the Black community for the last 9 years, installing furnaces and water heaters with pride. My actions that day are not a reflection of my feelings towards the Black community. I also understand that racial tensions in America are higher than before, and I regret my part in contributing to that tension. I realize that words are hollow without action, and because of the hurt I have caused, I hope I have the opportunity to give back to the Black community that I have harmed in a meaningful way.”
When contacted by ABC 6/FOX 28 Tuesday, Whitman didn’t want to speak on camera but said in a phone call he regretted it and “I lost my head.”