NEW YORK: White House spokesman Sean Spicer got a dose of the anger spewing against President Donald Trump for some of his recent executive actions, when an Indian American woman accosted him at an Apple store on Saturday night, and the two allegedly made some loaded comments against each other.
Shree Chauhan, 33, from Washington, DC, saw Spicer and she filmed her interaction with him on Periscope. She uploaded the video and it’s since then gone viral.
In the video, Chauhan can be heard asking Spicer questions about him committing “treason” and how does it feel to work for a “fascist” like President Trump.
Chauhan claims that at one point Spicer tells her: “It’s such a great country that allows you to be here.”
“Unlike this administration, I do not believe in ‘alternative facts.’ I believe in facts. I do not believe in accusing someone of this level of racism, when if in fact it was not,” Chauhan wrote Sunday in a post on Medium. “So I watched the video over and over again,” she said. “And his words were clear…’Such a great country that allows you to be here.’ That is racism and it is an implied threat.”
Chauhan said she had gone to the store to get her iPhone fixed and said she ultimately felt the need to “speak truth to power.”
“It is customary to give public figures their space…However, given what Mr. Spicer and his boss are doing to this country, I do not believe they are entitled to these norms and customs,” Chauhan explained, reported New York Post.
In the video, as she runs into Spicer and starts to talk to him, Spicer says: “We have a great country,” and then tries to walk away, ignoring Chauhan.
But she kept up her questioning.
Chauhan fires back: ‘We have a great country? Have you helped with the Russia stuff? Are you a criminal as well?’
‘Have you committed treason too? Just like the president. Have you committed treason too? What can you tell me about Russia?’
It is after this barrage that Spicer delivers his allegedly “racist” remark, saying: “It’s such a great country that allows you to be here.”
Chauhan wrote on Medium that the response left her disgusted. She called Spicer’s behavior ‘nasty bigotry’.
“I am still stunned by the boldness of having my citizenship threatened on camera,” she said. “I was not polite. But when does being impolite mean that I should be thrown out of the United States of America? The country I was born in, the country I was raised in, the country I love despite its flaws.”
Speaking to the Daily Mail about the video on Sunday, Chauhan shot down claims that Spicer could have been referring to the First Amendment rights of all Americans to exercise free speech when he made the comment.
“He’s the press secretary for the president of the United States,” she said. “Don’t tell me what he probably meant because he also works for this administration that has done all of these things.”
Chauhan went on to note how Trump has signed executive orders temporarily banning refugees and asylum seekers from predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa, reported New York Post.
“He could’ve said, ‘Such a great country that allows dissent,’” she told the Mail. “There’s a lot of way that could’ve been said. To have someone who speaks for the president of the United States tell me to my face that I shouldn’t be here and I was born here — that is a real thing.”
Chauhan, who is of Indian descent and was born in America, told DailyMail.com that she felt as if Spicer was suggesting that she had no right to be in the US. She works for Parents in Partnership, a nonprofit that encourages parents to take a greater role in their children’s education.
Chauhan added that she’s feared for her safety since the day Trump was elected.
“I woke up the day after the election in fear of what would happen to someone like me. And we’ve seen what happened,” she said. “We’ve seen what happened to Indians.”
“They’re gonna spin it however they want, but there is a palatable fear that people have in this country and it is warranted,” Chauhan said. “On a regular basis, Mr. Spicer consistently defends the actions — and I believe unconstitutional actions — and lies on behalf of this administration.
“Spicer has the protection of the podium when he’s in the press room,” she added. “I didn’t have time to sit there and ask questions I would ask if I was a reporter…Maybe having someone like a regular person ask those questions instead [of reporters] — that might work.”
There have been a spate of attacks against the Indian community in the US, since last month.
A racist Navy veteran shot at two Indian engineers in Olathe, Kansas, killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla, and injuring Alok Reddy Madasani. He shouted at them to get out of the country before firing.
An Indian American businessman, Harnish Patel, was shot dead in South Carolina, days after that.
On March 3, Deep Rai, a Sikh man, was shot and wounded by a gunman in the driveway of his home just outside of Seattle. The gunman told Rai to ‘go back to your country.’ Rai survived the attack.