Utica Police probe social media video of reported racist rant

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A social media video of a white man screaming racist comments at another driver in Utica is under investigation by law enforcement officials and the man's now former employers.

The video was posted to Facebook Saturday afternoon by a woman who said, "When I tell people I experience racist/prejudice encounters all the time they never believe me because we live in Utica! I finally got to catch one on camera."

In the video, the woman is driving her own vehicle when an orange car pulls up alongside her and a white man leans out the passenger-side window and makes several comments, such as "Black lives don't matter" and "Blacks should be slaves", along with repeatedly yelling racial slurs at the woman.

The man then identifies himself in the video as Barry Wardell, a cook. The video takes place along Genesee Street, and passes by the Stanley Theatre at one point. The video has been shared nearly 3,000 times since it was posted.

The Utica Police Department said they were made aware of the video and are actively looking into the incident to see if any crimes were committed.

"Regardless of the criminality of it, we were disgusted and horrified by the words used," police officials said in a statement. "It is one of the most ignorant things anyone has ever said and it is not indicative of the citizens here and the city we are all proud of."

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Utica Police at 315-223-3464.

Meanwhile, both Hamilton College and the Bon Appetit Management Company, which is the college's food service provider, have come out to say that Wardell will not be returning to their employ.

Bon Appetit officials said Wardell was hired in February and worked for them for about one month before being placed on leave due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Bon Appetit has a zero tolerance policy regarding racism," company officials said. "We condemn these vile comments whole-heartedly."

Hamilton College President David Wippman also released a statement in which he banned Wardell from the campus.

"I am appalled by what is on the video," Wippman stated.

"The behavior shown on the video is an extreme violation of our community standards and will not be tolerated. We will review our own and our contractors' employee screening and training policies to be sure appropriate requirements are in place."

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