Community Rises to Support Puerto Rican Landscapers After Connecticut Couple ‘Humiliated’ Them
Jose Martin, the owner of the company J. Martin Landscaping, and his brother were working on Frisbie Street in Middletown, CT on Sunday, October 8. At around 4 PM, Robert Shaw, 62, and Sharon Bourgeois-Williams, 58, approached them.
“I was thinking that [Bourgeois-Williams] was going to ask us for work or do something in her yard,” Martin recalled to WFSB. “As soon as I saw her cussing us out, I grabbed my phone right away.”
Martin remembers thinking, “Okay, this is going to be a problem.”
As you can see in the widely reposted video, Martin obtained proof of Shaw and Bourgeois-Williams’ behavior towards him and his brother. Shaw calls Martin an “idiot,” as the couple complains about the landscapers making “noise all f**king day.”
Later, Shaw says, “This is why we need a border wall. Get these clowns out of here.” Bourgeois-Williams asks moments after that: “Do you have a visa to be here?” She adds, “Are you here legally?”
As Martin later described to Al Rojo Vivo, he and his brother were born in Puerto Rico and are United States citizens.
“Look at these people discriminating us and we might be more American than they are.” Even then, he added, “It doesn’t matter if a person has legal documents or not, you shouldn’t discriminate against anyone.”
Martin said the couple “humiliated” him and his brother, and said they “felt very discriminated”
Jose Martin posted the video of the incident on Facebook, describing, “I was in the middle of doing a job when these two people approached me, claiming that I was making ‘too much noise’ as I was just cutting the grass.”
He added, “In the video you can see how they decided to deal with the situation. Please share this to spread awareness.”
Martin swiftly received many supportive comments, such as, “You lived something horrible… No one deserves that! I just want to thank you for advising your employee not to say anything [and] stay calm.”
However, Martin still told Al Rojo Vivo that the incident “humiliated” both him and his brother. “We felt very humiliated, we felt very discriminated. That isn’t a way to treat anyone.”
Still, as Martin’s own daughter-in-law wrote on X, “They handled this situation so well.” As so many people have begun doing on social media, she also urged people to hire J. Martin Landscaping in solidarity:
People continue to repost the seven-minute-long video, with many calling the situation “disgusting” and “horrible.”
As reported by Fox 61, Martin and his brother arrived at Frisbie Street on the morning of October 8 to work. “It was like a normal day for us,” Martin recalled to the outlet.
However, by around 4 p.m., Shaw and Bourgeois-Williams approached the landscapers. “She started cussing me,” Martin remembered. And it only got worse.
As shown in the video, Bourgeois-Williams first seems concerned with showing people on social media that Martin’s “company is bad.” She says, “Their company is bad and I want to f**king post it. Bad company.” She adds, “Showing up all day on a Sunday making noise.”
Both Martin and his brother stay quiet throughout much of the video, even while Shaw accuses them of having “no respect as human beings.”
You can overhear Martin telling his brother, “Don’t say anything, please. Because you might compromise me.” Even as the two stay quiet, the couple continues approaching them. With Shaw saying, “This is why we need a border wall.”
Later, Shaw can be seen continuing to approach Martin and his brother, getting closer as he films them with his phone. Even while you can hear Martin’s voice shaking, he calmly tells his brother: “Don’t do anything, don’t say anything, because they will put you in jail.”
The Connecticut couple continued mocking both brothers, saying they “no speak English.” The couple calls the landscapers “clowns,” and continued filming them and even touching their truck.
“Do you have a visa to be here? You don’t even have a visa do you? Are you here legally? Are you here legal?” Bourgeois-Williams continues asking Martin’s brother.
Moments later, Martin says “These people are harassing” to someone nearby, announcing that he is calling the police.
Police arrested the couple for their “hostile behavior” towards the two landscapers
According to NBC Connecticut, police arrested Shaw and Bourgeois-Williams for disorderly conduct linked to their “hostile behavior” towards the landscapers.
The couple turned themselves in on Thursday, October 12, and were released on $10,000 bonds.
Following the incident, Martin told Fox 61, “It made me feel super bad because discrimination like that is not tolerated.”
“No matter who you are, or what country you are [from], nobody deserves to be discriminated the way that they discriminated us,” the landscaper said, clearly emotional.
He also told WFSB 3, “I always stayed quiet because it was not worth it to go back and forth with them.”
In response, Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim released a statement that read, “Let me be clear, we don’t tolerate this type of behavior in Middletown and it doesn’t represent who we work to be as a community.”
“My staff has reached out to Mr. Martin to offer our apologies for the way he was treated while working in our City,” he added.
Meanwhile, Bourgeois-Williams told The Middletown Press her side of the story — and seemed to express an apology. “I am mortified that I behaved that way… We made a mistake. I had been drinking, I haven’t been myself.”
“I know what I said was wrong,” she added. “If I could take it back, I would.” Shaw also told the outlet, “We made a mistake, we were having a rough day.”
Continuing, “We apologized, we were in the wrong and we know it.”
That being said, many people are now rallying on social media to help Martin and his brother in any way possible. One of the best ways, though? Hiring J. Martin Landscaping stat and supporting nuestra comunidad.
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