AURORA, IL — A white man taunted a fitness class of mostly Black women working out at It's Fit Time in Aurora and only stopped once police were called, according to a report by the Aurora Beacon-News. The man approached the women exercising June 6 in the business' parking lot and harassed them for about 45 minutes, the report states.
Certified personal trainer Asafonie Obed, of Aurora, told the City Council and Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin about the experience during an online meeting earlier this month. Obed said she was working outside at the predominantly Black gym when the man came over to the women and immediately began to act "very hostile" toward them.
"The first thing he said was, 'What are y'all doing here?' and 'I pay taxes,'" Obed said. "I'm a tax-paying citizen. I'm a resident as well. I belong in this community. We should not tolerate racism in this community, and just to see that we were treated the way that we were treated, it was just sad."
The Beacon-News reports the man told the women they were being too loud and stuck his tongue out at them while they worked out. The man also told Obed "all lives matter" after she said "Black lives matter," the report states.
Obed said the group included eight Black women and one white woman, who were following social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the report.
Obed told city officials the man eventually called the police on them.
"I have never in my life experienced blatant racism like that," Obed said.
Obed said she will not let the incident stop her from holding future classes at the gym on East New York Street, adding she should be able to do that without being harassed.
"I want to feel like I can exercise while being Black — outside — without having the police called on me because someone feels like I don’t belong there," Obed said.
Mayor Richard Irvin apologized to Obed after she recalled the incident.
"We have a number of issues in Aurora we have to deal with," Irvin said. "We can't fix ignorance, but what we can do is work hard to just make a difference the best way we can."