DEMING, N.M. (AP) — A southern New Mexico county official is under fire for posting a social media video casting blame for the novel coronavirus pandemic on “Asians.”
Luna County Safety and Risk Coordinator Tyler Massey posted an expletive-laden video on Snapchat earlier this month, where he complained about people of Asian descent buying “in bulk” at a Walmart, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports.
“There were about six Asians,” Massey says in the video, alleging that they had cut him off in the parking lot. “They parked right next to me. They were all around me. They were all buying (expletive) in bulk and I’m like, hello, it was your (expletive) cousins (who) did this to us.”
Massey says he felt the encounter left him “exposed” and declared he would self-quarantine for a day.
Luna County Attorney Charles Kretek verified that Massey remained a county employee and said county manager Chris Brice “addressed the matter internally.”
Massey did not respond to phone and email messages.
Massey had served as Hidalgo County’s chief deputy assessor before being elected county treasurer in 2012. He was reelected in 2016. He later resigned to take the Luna County job.
Meanwhile, a restaurant in Kirtland also is sparking anger for erecting a sign that blamed China for closing amid the pandemic.
“CLOSED you can thank CHINA!!!” the sign read outside the Country Family Restaurant.
“I stuck up that little-bitty sign that explained my thoughts about the communist Chinese government and the way they treat their people,” the eatery’s owner, Steve Jackson, told the Farmington Daily-Times.
Former Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said he would never eat at the place again and urged other members of the Navajo Nation to avoid it.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump faces criticism for saying he didn’t think calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” — or the “kung flu,” as one administration official reportedly called it — puts Asian Americans at risk of retaliation despite growing reports they are facing virus-related discrimination.
Since coronavirus infections started appearing in the United States in January, Asian Americans have shared stories from minor aggression to blatant attacks by people blaming them for the pandemic.
Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce said he’s not offended by Trump’s use of the words “Chinese virus.” He said the controversy was a result of political correctness.