advocacy and activism

James Juanillo biography: 13 things about Filipino Black Lives Matter supporter

James “Jaime” Juanillo is a Filipino-American man who supports the Black Lives Matter movement. He is a resident of Pacific Heights, a predominantly wealthy white enclave in San Francisco, California, United States.

At around 4 p.m. on June 9, 2020, Juanillo was writing the words “Black Lives Matter” on a retaining wall outside his house in Pacific Heights when he was approached by LAFACE Skincare founder Lisa Catherine Alexander and her husband Robert Larkins, a former Raymond James employee. The couple accused the Filipino-American man of vandalizing a private property.

Among the co-owners of the house, which is worth approximately $13 million, are Brad Gilbertson and John Newmeyer. They both did not know Alexander and Larkins.

“Is this your property?” Alexander asked Juanillo. “Hi. I’m asking you. This is your property?”

“Why are you asking?” Juanillo asked back. Both Alexander and Larkins emphasized that it was a private property.

“Are you defacing private property or is this your building?” Larkins asked Juanillo. “You’re free to express your opinions but not on people’s property.”

“Absolutely, just respectfully, so we’re just saying, absolutely, your signs and everything and that’s good,” Alexander added. “This? This is not the way to do it. It’s private property.”

 

“But if I did live here and this was my property, this would be absolutely fine?” Juanillo asked. “And you don’t know if I live here or if this is my property?”

“We actually do know,” Alexander lied. “That’s why we’re asking.”

“O really?” Juanillo was surprised. Alexander told him they had the reason to believe that he did not live there because they knew “the person who does live here.”

“I suggest you call them or call the police because you’re accusing me of a crime,” Juanillo told Alexander. The couple did call the cops and when they arrived, they recognized the owner of the house, did not even step out of their patrol car and left.

Talking to the operator, Larkins referred to Juanillo as a Hispanic man. Through a public records request, the audio of the call was obtained by the San Francisco Examiner on July 9, 2020 and in the background, Alexander can be heard saying she does not appreciate Juanillo taking her picture and she does not “really want to be on social media and he yelled at me calling me a Karen.”

The Filipino-American homeowner took a video of the encounter, uploaded it on social media and it quickly went viral. On June 14, 2020, both Larkins and Alexander issued an apology.

Because of the incident, Alexander was included in America’s list of Karens or white women who tend to complain a lot and display entitled behavior because of their privilege. Here are 13 more facts about Juanillo:

  1. He was born in 1970.
  2. Originally from the Philippines, he has lived in San Francisco since childhood.
  3. He attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory High School in San Francisco.
  4. From 1988 to 1992, he attended Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English language and literature/letters. While in the university, he availed of the student worker scholarship program and played lacrosse and rugby. He was also a sportswriter for the school newspaper and a member of the Phi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
  5. He is an expert in sales, negotiation, marketing, customer service and management.
  6. From 1996 to 1998, he worked as an independent contractor with entertainment publications.
  7. From January 1999 to December 1999, he worked as a sales representative for Microsoft in Seattle, Washington, USA.
  8. In September 2000, he volunteered for the neighborhood emergency response team (NERTS) of San Francisco as a Westwood Park neighborhood coordinator.
  9. He has been living in Pacific Heights with his husband since 2002. They got married in the backyard of the house they rent with five of their friends.
  10. Since July 2014, he has been running a dog-walking and pet-sitting company in Pacific Heights called Pack Heights.
  11. A proud, gay Filipino, he knows what discrimination feels like. He told CBS San Francisco, “This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced fear or even loathing that just kind of creeps out.”
  12. On June 17, 2020, he told “CNN Tonight” host Don Lemon, “As a first generation Filipino American, you have to fight for that and as a gay man, we fight every day for recognition, for visibility, for equality so the reason BLM resonates with me is because I have been fighting for equality my entire life.”
  13. On September 16, 2020, he appeared in an episode of Dr. Phil McGraw‘s show “Dr. Phil” with Sandrella Zadikian.

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