A Florida Politician Is Caught On Video Telling A Young Puerto Rican Tennis Player To “Go Cut Grass”
Martin Hyde, a candidate for the Sarasota City Commission, has dropped out of the race after allegedly telling a young Puerto Rican tennis player to “cut grass.” The confrontation was caught on camera by a 15-year-old junior tennis player, according to the teenager’s uncle Javier Irizarry.
Hyde denies that what he said was racist or that he did anything wrong, but instead claims he is dropping out of the race due to the negative attention. Hyde was subsequently banned from Sarasota’s Bath & Racquet Club following the incident.
Video of the confrontation goes viral on social media.
“Puerto Rican junior tennis player was expelled from the Celsius Tennis Academy facilities for speaking Spanish,” Couto de Jesús tweeted according to Latino Rebels. “He was Sarasota, Florida, participating in the Casely International Championship. In the video, a white man kicks him out of the facilities and shows his economic privilege. This must be denounced.”
According to the Herald Tribue, Hyde claims that while his son was getting a tennis lesson, some players near the court were being rude. Hyde’s son told them to be quiet.
“I came over and said ‘He asked you nicely, and I’m telling you now to shut the hell up.’ That was the extent of it,” Hyde told the newspaper.
However, things took a heated turn when Hyde allegedly told one of the young men to go “cut grass.” Hyde doesn’t deny this in the video he merely says, “so what.”
“We’re calling the police. That’s racism, man; how can you say something like that? Aren’t you human?” The young tennis player tells Hyde in the video.
Irizarry, on the other hand, claims his nephew and another tennis player were speaking Spanish when Hyde screamed at them to tell them to be quiet.
“My nephew asked him why so he got a little bit mad and mentioned he shouldn’t be playing tennis and should be cutting the grass,” Irizarry said.
Hyde is banned from Bath & Racquet Fitness Club by the manager.
Latino Rebels reached out to the manager of the club, Michael Brandon who expressed disgust at the video.
“I am super disturbed at seeing that video. I was actually the coach that was on the court. I knew that there was some type of incident but had no idea to what degree this actually went down. After watching the video, the member is going to be removed this afternoon so I’m going to be notifying him that he’s no longer a member of the club,” Brandon said.
When the Herald-Tribune pressed Hyde on whether he had been kicked out of the club, he insisted that Brandon had hit the “panic button.”
“Bath and Racquet definitely or any of the staff here does not stand for racism whatsoever or any type of actions like that at all, especially towards children or obviously anyone. He will be removed from the club this afternoon, and thank you for reaching out. We’re so sorry that happened but we have rectified the situation,” Brandon said.
Hyde drops out of the Sarasota City Commission race.
Hyde still insists that his actions were not rude. Hyde is an entrepreneur and Republic who ran for City Commission in 2017 and lost. He claims he has been getting death threats, and according to the Herald-Tribute “choked up” at the thought of being referred to as a racist.
“It’s with great regret that I’m announcing my withdrawal from the election process for the Sarasota City Commission in 2020,” Hyde said in a statement. “I hold myself to a higher standard though than engaging with noisy teenagers in public places, and it for this failing and this alone that I’ve decided to stand down from public life. A part of me thinks I should stay on and fight to clear my name in the face of falsehoods, but I believe that if I did the scrutiny and defamation would simply increase and that wouldn’t be fair to those close to me that I care about.”
Hyde reconsiders his plans to drop out of the race.
After initially dropping out of the campaign, Hyde is now reconsidering. According to the Herald-Tribune, he is looking for a way to publicly “atone” for what he has done.
“I haven’t had anyone condone my poor behavior and I’m not without regret for it myself,” Hyde wrote. “That having been said I agree with those that have said the best form of redemption might be a public one.”
The Herald-Tribune notes that Hyde, who is known for his brash behavior, decides to remain in the race, this could be another test of how far politicians can go with anti-immigrant rhetoric in the Trump administration.