Tom Austin, a Minnesota man who was depicted as a racist, says that the mob got it wrong when it decided to launch a series of personal attacks against him.
About two months ago, Austin was the subject of a massively viral video reported on by dozens of news outlets with a national reach. Many believe that the video shows Austin racially profiling a group of black men who were using his office building’s private gym. He confronted the men, asking if they had an office in the building. News sites have since reported that this caused him tremendous personal ruin after he was “canceled” for his allegedly racist interaction depicted in the video. However, Austin himself says the media misrepresented this story on two major fronts.
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First, Austin told Alpha News that the men he confronted in the video were actually in violation of building rules as three of five black men present were not in fact tenants of the building. Further, Austin said that just two weeks before his now-infamous gym confrontation, building management had sent out an email to highlight a problem with non-tenants using the establishment.
“Only two of them had [key] fobs, the other three didn’t have fobs,” Austin said, as he explained his reason for approaching the men. Although one of the black people in the video can clearly be heard claiming that they’re “all tenants in this building,” Austin also highlights that building management was only able to confirm this in the case of two of the men.
“The problem was that they didn’t have fobs,” Austin concluded, insisting that the motivation behind his query about the group’s legitimacy was based on a concern originally raised by his bilding’s management.
Second, Austin says the media wrongly reported that he called the police on the men in the video. Rather, he says he phoned the building manager.
He also suggested to Alpha News that the scope of his financial losses resulting from getting canceled has been greatly over reported. Outlets like Newsweek, the Hill and others all took a positive tone when relaying to their readership that Austin’s company, F2 Group was kicked out of the building in which the now viral video was filmed.
Austin says that since the coronavirus pandemic began, F2 had been performing so poorly that he had to lay off large amounts of staff, rendering his rented office space useless. He says that he was looking to downsize his office space anyway, but that the building wouldn’t let him break his lease without incurring tremendous costs to himself.
However, amidst the social media related chaos that followed the gym video getting posted, Austin says the building owner let him stop renting space for free.
While this may seem like an upside to Austin’s experience getting canceled, he was also clear about the mob’s negative effects on his life. He says his family, friends, employees and clients all received hateful or threatening emails. About 20% of the emails he personally received contained death threats, he added.
“After getting literally thousands of emails, I started to question. I started to have self doubt… maybe I did do something wrong,” he considered.
He also mentioned a bit of advice to other individuals who face mob outrage in their communities. He said to “never apologize” if you haven’t done something wrong, and that the actual community of individuals who participate in online cancel culture is relatively small, and that this is important to remember when dealing with their outrage.