On March 9, Lubbock native Brandon Hardaway said he received racist comments and threats through Facebook messages.
It started when Hardaway was looking at a Facebook post on another local news site when he saw a comment he disagreed with. The commenter claimed to have personal experience attending the funeral of a first lady. Hardaway responded to the post, saying he doubted it’s accuracy.
“I made a comment to the effect of saying what he was saying was not true. I called him Brian Williams,” Hardaway said in an interview Tuesday with EverythingLubbock.com.
Hardaway said he was surprised to receive a private message on Facebook from that man. Hardaway said he had never met the man before and was taken aback to see the man had sent him racial slurs. When Hardaway didn’t respond, the man continued sending messages
“He was just hurling racial slurs at me, whatever racial slur comes to your mind, those are the ones he was saying, so I just responded back to him in a manner I though would deescalate him,” Hardaway said.
According to screenshots Hardaway provided, Hardaway’s only reply to the man read, “I would but it’s joy week on the Bobby Bones show and I’m supposed to spread love. Clearly you are upset about something else in your life and choose to hurl your racist insults at people you don’t know. I forgive you anyway. Spread some joy this week. Learn to disagree with people respectfully, you may actually achieve something good in life. Have a good one man.”
The man responded with more racial slurs, threatening Hardaway. The man’s message concluded, “hide if you can but I am gonna find you and you will answer to me! Lubbock is getting smaller on you.”
“At first I think I kind of tried to laugh it off,” Hardaway explained of the encounter. ” He continued on with ‘Lubbock’s small, Lubbock’s gonna close in on you,’ and I thought yeah, Lubbock is pretty small when it comes down to it.”
Hardaway began to feel worried for his safety. He reached out to the police department and posted the screenshots on social media.
“When he just sent that to my inbox, nobody knows that I’ve been threatened at that point,” Hardaway said. “When I put it on Facebook, all my friends see it, all my family members see it. That was my intent: to show– a lot of people that I grew up with don’t understand about being a in a town where you are a minority— just to show them that people do still think this way, not everybody, but there are still people out there that do.”
His social media post captured lots of attention, he saw the post shared nearly 2,000 times within the first few hours of posting it.
“We didn’t break the internet but we almost broke my phone, my phone was just going off,” he said. Hardaway added that he doesn’t have ill-will for the man who sent him those messages, he just wanted to spread awareness about prejudicial behaviors that still exist in Lubbock.
The night Hardaway made that post, he got a notification that his post had been removed from Facebook due to violating community standards.
“My post didn’t say anything vulgar, but the messages, screenshots obviously did so I reposted them again and I got the same message that they had been removed for those reasons and I that I was banned from Facebook for 24 hours,” Hardaway said.
He explained that many people reached out to offer support to him during that time, mostly over Facebook. He said he was “bummed” he wasn’t able to thank those people immediately given his temporary ban from the site.
Lubbock Police have also gotten in contact with Hardaway who has now filed a police report. Lubbock Police are investigating this case, and while no charges have been filed yet, charges for social media threats can range from harassment to terroristic threats, LPD said.
“We 100 percent agree with the victim in that case it does appear that [the commenter] was threatening [Hardaway] with potential violence,” said Lt. Ray Mendoza of Lubbock Police.
Lubbock police are using Hardaway’s screenshots to investigate this case. Lt. Mendoza explained that it’s helpful for police investigations when people like Hardaway save screenshots of online conversations for future reference.
Lt. Mendoza added that the racist nature of the threats Hardaway received have police especially concerned.
“I think that just adds to the actual offense of the threats that were implied in these messages, there’s a negative racist connotation to it, we think it’s an additional factor to the actual threats,” Lt. Mendoza said.
Hardaway said, more than anything, he’s grateful the public shared these messages to help spread awareness.
“The community is what stood up to this guy and made him face consequences, but otherwise he would just been another person who said the ‘n’ word to somebody,” Hardaway said.
Hardaway coaches a U9 soccer team and hopes that his actions set a positive example for his team.
“You can choose how you respond, it takes a lot more out of you to hate someone than to show them love, even after they’ve done something to you. You can change people’s minds and their perception by doing something like that,” Hardaway said. “That’s basically what I want my boys [ soccer team] to know, you’re going to reach adversity in your life and it’s going to come in different forms, but you get to choose how you respond back to that and that says a lot about who you are”