Moorpark Unified School District officials confirmed Wednesday morning that a high school teacher was placed on administrative leave after he was recorded yelling racist comments and profanities at a sidewalk fruit seller Sunday afternoon.
A video taken from the Spanish-speaking street vendor has generated thousands of views as of Wednesday afternoon and led to a social media campaign to remove the instructor.
District personnel identified the instructor as Gnel Frankian. The district hired Frankian as a full-time teacher at Moorpark High School in August. Frankian taught French and previously worked at Antelope Valley High School.
The district noted in a statement Tuesday afternoon that an investigation was underway. The district also wrote that Frankian “has not been allowed to return to campus since the district learned of the video.”
The district also shared with Moorpark High students Tuesday that counselors were available. The campus, which is 55% Latino, was closed Monday for a regularly scheduled day off.
Calls to two numbers listed for Frankian were not immediately returned.
In the 90-second video, Frankian is seen walking from his vehicle at a gas station toward the sidewalk. He engages a male vendor of a fruit cart dubbed La Palma Fresh Fruit and twice yells, “what is your problem?” Both men were recording the confrontation with their cellphones.
A pair of gas station patrons attempted to intervene, but Frankian tells them that he “almost had an accident,” and blames the vendor.
Frankian then walks within a few feet of the vendor and yells, “Get the f— out of here you f—ing illegal.”
He continues the tirade while walking back to his Toyota Corolla. He then yells at the same couple who attempted to stop him previously and begins to record their license plate.
One person questions Frankian’s judgment in using the term “illegal.” The couple and the vendor then yell back that Frankian is “racist,” to which Frankian tells the seller “f— you illegal.”
The vendor continues to record as Frankian pulls out of the gas station.
A text message to the number listed for La Palma Fresh Fruit was not immediately returned. In other TikTok posts, the street vendor noted having issues selling in the area.
A La Palma vendor laments in Spanish in a Sept. 11 video that a Santa Clarita code enforcement officer “is always harassing us even when we have permission.”
The incident drew the attention of Edin Alex Enamorado, a street vendor rights champion, whose social media pressure campaigns have led to the firings of security guards and contractors who have disturbed street vendors.
Enamorado asked his more than 500,000 followers on Instagram and TikTok to pressure the school district to take action. He asked on Tuesday morning that calls and emails be directed to Moorpark Unified School District board member Ute Van Dam, Superintendent Kelli Hays, Moorpark High School Principal Zaid Bakoo and the school as well.
Later that afternoon, Enamorado posted a celebration video upon reading the district statement that Frankian had been removed from campus.
“This is why you don’t mess with street vendors,” Enamorado said. “He f—ed around and found out.”
Source: LA Times