Uber bans rider after racist attack on Asian driver at LAX

Tony Lee
·3 min read

Uber said it banned a rider Wednesday after NBC News inquired about a report from a Filipino driver saying he received racist insults from the rider, who is white, at Los Angeles International Airport.

“After I unloaded the luggage, that’s when he started yelling at me,” Raph David, the Uber driver, told NBC News. “And he said, ‘Asian piece of s---, you might not even have a paper here in America. Go back to your country.’”

According to David, the incident occurred Tuesday evening when the man, Kyle Harrington, ordered an Uber using his son’s account. When David picked up the man and his two sons, Harrington tried to get into the front passenger seat, which is currently prohibited per Uber’s Covid-19 safety policy.

When David told Harrington he was not able to sit in the front seat, he said Harrington became irate, slammed the door and started yelling at David.

Stella Hwang, a bystander who was nearby and able to confirm David’s claims, began yelling at Harrington.

Hwang uploaded the encounter that shows her yelling at Harrington to Twitter, but the video does not capture the original racist remarks that David and Hwang say occurred. [WARNING: The video contains many expletives and offensive comments.]

In the video, Harrington can be heard responding multiple times to Hwang’s yelling with, “Let me guess, you’re not married.”

David and Hwang say a police officer arrived at the scene but no names were taken and no report was ever filed.

“When the police came, he just asked me a real quick question, ‘What happened?’ And he told me to leave right away, like no reports, no nothing,” David said.

Los Angeles Airport Police said they are aware of the incident but did not log it since it was deescalated at the scene.

Harrington did not respond to multiple requests for comment and in one attempt hung up after NBC News identified ourselves.

According to David and screenshots he provided to NBC News, when he reported the incident to Uber, they initially told him Harrington would not be banned but they would prevent them from being matched again in the future.

After NBC News reached out to Uber with the video, the company said it has now banned Harrington and his son and has reached out to David to offer him support.

“Uber does not tolerate racism or hate in any form, against any community. When one community is being attacked, we are all being attacked. We are shocked and saddened by the recent increase in anti-Asian hate, particularly when it affects a driver or rider,” an Uber spokesperson said. “In this case, we have banned the riders for violating our policies and have been in touch with Mr. David to support him after this upsetting incident.”

David said his experience has left him traumatized and scared for future encounters.

“I still feel scared right now, you know, because of what happened the other day. I hope this doesn’t happen anymore,” he said.

But he said he’s thankful for Hwang for standing up for him when no other bystander did. Hwang hopes her actions inspire others to speak up, too.

“It just disappoints me that no one really, no one came to help,” she said tearfully. “If I can do it, there shouldn't be any type of hesitation for anybody else. So my expectation is for all of us to be better. I'm very hopeful for that.”