The incident which took place in Wellington comes amid tense anti-racist movements across the country following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and many others at the hands of police.
Yet another video of a Black person being harassed by a racist white guy has gone viral on social media. The video captures the man following three teens—one of whom is Black—and threatening to have them arrested. The incident which took place in a Wellington, Florida, neighborhood on Sunday comes amid tense anti-racist movements across the country following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and many others at the hands of police.
The confrontation captured on camera by the youngsters shows 60-year-old Lee Jeffers shouting "You don't belong in this development" at 15-year-old Breonna Nelson-Hicks and her friends. He only stops his tirade when Breonna's grandfather, Tony Nelson—a Wellington resident since 1987—confronts him for threatening to have his Black, teenage granddaughter arrested.
Watch Racist White Man Tell 15 Year Old Black Girl "You Don't Belong In Our Community" & Threatens to Run Her Over; Changes His Tune When Her Grandfather Comes Out of The House to Confront Him (Tweets-Vids) https://t.co/WakqJuBmIO via @Trueblue1824 pic.twitter.com/qODq32tJtF— Robert Littal (@BSO) June 18, 2020
Speaking to The Palm Beach Post, Nelson revealed his granddaughter was scared when she burst through the front door Sunday. She informed her grandfather that a man she didn't know had followed her and her friends home and was yelling at them. According to Nelson and a police report filed that afternoon, Breonna and four of her friends were riding in a golf cart Sunday afternoon in the neighborhood when the man began following them in his car. Even when the boy driving the cart tried to pull to the side to allow the vehicle to pass them, the car stayed behind them with the driver glowering at them all the way.
“It’s not going away,” said Tony Nelson, a 33-year Wellington resident, and one of the village’s first Black families, whose granddaughter was targeted in the incident:— Maga Bot Angel (@MagaBotAngel1) June 18, 2020
“I can’t let it die. ... People aren’t understanding what’s going on.”https://t.co/rC83oksh8D
Frightened, the girls got out and the boys sped off, Nelson revealed. The girls began walking the rest of the way to Breonna's house and as they approached the residence, the man stopped his car and began yelling at them. Like many victims of racism in recent weeks, the teens began filming the man at this point and the video documents what Nelson later would say "was not about the golf cart." The video that lasts about a minute and a half shows a visibly agitated Jeffers unfazed by the camera and yelling, "I don't care if you take my picture... because you don't belong in this development."
Inevitable statement from his family/friends:— Kyle (@Dats280z) June 18, 2020
"He's not a racist, the video was taken out of context. He's the most caring and compassionate person anyone could know."
Racism is a mind-numbing drug— Shockratees 🇺🇸🏳️🌈🦠✊🏻 (@ThatShockratees) June 18, 2020
June 18, 2020
He then demands to know the girls' names and addresses, which the girls refuse to answer. "Why would we tell you any of this?" one of the girls responds. "Okay, not a problem, I'm gonna call the gate [security] and have you all arrested. You do not deserve to be in here," Jeffers replies at which point Breonna leaves to get her grandfather for help. Her friends, who are white, are then heard telling Jeffers he's "coming at" 15-year-old girls. "So you’re going to hit us with a car?" one of the teens asks. "Because you’re 15 years old? You could marry in Mississippi or Alabama," Jeffers responds.
I’m never comforted when a man is too familiar with the laws of consent in various states.— Stephen Robinson (@SER1897) June 18, 2020
Nelson comes out of his house at this point to find Jeffers pointing at him and yells, "Don’t stick your hand out! Did you threaten a child?" Jeffers quickly lowers his hand and begins to back away, denying that he'd threatened to have the girls arrested. Nelson then asks the teens to go inside the house, at which point the video stops. He later revealed that the man tried to defend his actions and spoke about apologizing to the teens. "You were totally inappropriate and you scared the girls," the 62-year-old told Jeffers.
#BREAKING: Sources say Florida man harassing 15-year-old black girl in viral video is Lee Jeffers, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security employee at @USCIS Citizenship and Immigration Services in West Palm Beach. @USCISMediaSouth is preparing a statement. https://t.co/royYLw4rHH pic.twitter.com/eEIhGR9xLu— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) June 18, 2020
Documentary filmmaker Billy Corben disclosed Jeffers’ name Thursday after the video went viral on social media. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, his LinkedIn social media profile lists him as an Immigration Services Analyst at the Department of Homeland Security. A U.S. Customs and Immigration Services spokeswoman addressed the incident in an email stating that the encounter between Jeffers and the teens was under review. "USCIS holds its employees to the highest standards of integrity and professionalism regardless if they are on or off-duty," the email stated.
#UPDATE: In a just released statement, a @USCIS Spokesperson says, “The video is certainly disturbing, and we are working to get all available information in considering what action, if any, may be appropriate for the agency to take.” pic.twitter.com/Lu8QFKBNPb— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) June 18, 2020
"We are looking into the matter that has been reported in the press about this individual’s off-duty behavior. The video is certainly disturbing, and we are working to get all available information in considering what action, if any, may be appropriate for the agency to take," said the agency spokeswoman. Nelson, chief operating officer of Premier Family Health medical offices in Wellington, revealed that Jeffers reached out to him after the video went viral. "He got my phone number and contacted me to apologize," he said. "I initially told him the damage was done and I could not accept it."
#UPDATE: Lee Jeffers, 60, Immigration Services Analyst at the Department of Homeland Security USCIS, called grandfather of girl he confronted to apologize, ask for meeting https://t.co/DTiVBoeZ6q— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) June 19, 2020
Jeffers tried to explain personal details that wouldn't excuse his behavior but could shed light on it, said Nelson, revealing that he agreed to meet with him. "Am I going to be forgiving him? I can’t say that. I would be lying," he said. "I don’t want people to think they can get away with this kind of behavior if they come back later and say they’re sorry. He’s got to prove himself to the community first." He said neither he nor any of his closest neighbors had ever seen Jeffers, who lives one-fifth of a mile from him, before the incident although Nelson has lived in the gated community of Grand Isles since 2017. He explained that meeting with Jeffers was important for him to do as a Christian and as a member of a prison ministry. "I look murderers in the eye and offer them forgiveness," he said. "How can I not at least listen to the man? I cannot forgive his behavior, though."