A viral video posted to TikTok and then Instagram shows a white woman in Charlotte yelling racial slurs at an Asian-American Uber driver in a gas station parking lot at East Woodlawn and Park roads. In addition to telling the man to “go back to Asia,” she uses the n-word and yells obscenities throughout the process.
Events that led up to the recorded incident are unclear, as Queen City Nerve has not been able to reach Outhay Chokbengboun, the identified Uber driver, and the woman in the video has not responded to requests for comment. The two friends she was with can be seen in the video attempting to deescalate the situation to no avail.
Social media users in Charlotte began digging for the full name of the woman in the video, whose friends refer to as Stella in the video. A quick Facebook search brought up a private profile that people started comparing the profile picture of to the woman in the video on Monday.
Throughout the day, this woman’s name was posted in comment sections across TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Her employer, an online consignment and thrift store called thredUp, was tagged in comments across the platforms with demands for action. The company came out with a statement swiftly discrediting any allegation that their employee was involved in the video.
“We are coming forward because this case of mistaken identity has resulted in serious concern for our employee’s safety and privacy,” the statement reads.
— thredUP (@thredUP) June 22, 2021
Sources close to the falsely accused woman confirmed she would have been in Arizona when the video is believed to have been recorded. She has not responded to requests for comment on this situation.
The real woman in the video, Stella Thomas, had deleted all social media accounts and a LinkedIn profile that shows her as the marketing manager for AB Ludvig Svensson, a company headquartered in Sweden with an American operations office in Charlotte, according to sources close to her.
Representatives of Ludvig Svensson have confirmed that Stella Thomas is the woman in the video and that she has been suspended as they discuss what the next steps will be.
“Our company enforces a multicultural environment and unfortunately this is something people do,” a representative of Svensson told Queen City Nerve. “She’s been with the company a long time and she’s been a very good asset.”
The president of Americas operations for Ludvig Svensson, Mauricio Manotas, also lives in Charlotte. Manotas commented on the story in an email to Queen City Nerve on Tuesday stating, “We at Ludvig Svensson strongly object to this kind of behavior. Disciplinary actions are being taken as we speak. We support a safe and all-inclusive work environment.”
Mecklenburg County property records show that Manotas and Thomas own a home together in south Charlotte. Manotas has not yet responded to questions about their relationship or if it will affect the decision-making process.
UPDATE: An email statement from Manotas says that Thomas has resigned from her position with Ludvig Svensson.
The recent incident happened following a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes across the country and locally over the past year.
A pattern of violence against Asian-Americans in Charlotte
Charlotte made national news in early April for a March 30 attack on Plaza Sundries, an Asian-owned store in the Charlotte Transportation Center. In security footage of the attack, a regular of the store, Xavier Rashee Woody-Silas, walked through doors he’d entered on numerous occasions, metal bar in hand. He can be seen grabbing a merchandise rack and forcefully slamming it to the floor before using the metal bar in attempts to smash glass-front drink coolers.
The rampage lasts a few moments, all the while Woody-Silas and an apparent friend (who had allegedly been banned from the store previously) yelled racial slurs, indicating this was the premise for the attack. Woody-Silas can be seen punching the plexiglass divider separating the store from the cash register as he attempts to confront the owners.
Joyce and Mun Sung, immigrants from South Korea, opened their convenience store in 1995. The couple’s son, Mark Sung, reported to WBTV that confrontations and other illegal activity happen in or around the store on a daily basis, and that he and his family call the police multiple times per day.
On April 11, the owner of Asian Grocery on Farm Pond Lane in east Charlotte was shot in the chest in the early morning hours. CMPD believes the incident was an attempted robbery, though investigators are yet to conclude whether the man was targeted due to his ethnicity.
In the recently passed 2022 Fiscal Budget for the city of Charlotte, Dimple Ajmera, the city’s first Asian-American council member, ensured that $10,000 would go to the Bengali Women’s Forum, which has responded to a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes by working in the community to address incidents and advocate for action.
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