What should have been a routine day of playing tennis turned out to be an infuriating confrontation for a couple of Puerto Rican teens. Last week the teens were playing tennis at the Celsius Tennis Academy in Sarasota, Florida. They had been invited to play in the Casely International Championship and had every right to be there. But according to a video posted on Twitter, Martin Hyde, a candidate for the Sarasota City Commission, didn’t like that the Latino teens were there playing.
According to the teens, they confronted Hyde after they claim he issued racist comments at them. The teens said that Hyde told them to “go cut grass.” Another witness claims on Twitter that Hyde offered him thousands of dollars in exchange for the video. While Hyde denied ever saying racist comments at the teens, according to NBC News, he does say in the video, “Yes, so what?” when he was asked why he would say that. This latest racist verbal assault is just another example of what many people of color have been experiencing all over the country.
For the teens, who were visiting Florida from Puerto Rico, they were new to this type of racism. An uncle of one of the teens told him that it is a harsh reality of what people of color go through in a Trump era, but reassured him that not everyone is like Hyde.
UPDATE: Florida businessman Martin Hyde, who bullied 3 Puerto Ricans tennis players, wants to personally apologize for what he did "wrong" – "I do feel bad about that and I did before this came up publicly as I know I need to be a less aggressive person."
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) December 1, 2019
“We had a long talk about reality, and I explained to him that this guy represents a really small minority and that his behavior wasn’t normal,” Javier Irizarry told NBC News. “I hope by sharing the video, we can prevent something like this from happening again.”
The incredible aspect of this story is that the sports club where this appalling incident took place is siding with the teens despite Hyde’s refusal to acknowledge what he said. The sports club has since banned Hyde from ever stepping foot onto its premises.
“We have kids from all over the world, Central America, Latin America, who play here and compete to get scholarships for college,” Cary Cohenour, the director of Celsius Tennis Academy, told NBC News. “The whole incident was out of control, and though Celsius wasn’t involved, we want people to know that we denounce racism here.”
Hyde has since apologized for his rude behavior but continues to claim that he never said anything racist or that he offered them money in exchange for the video.