On Friday, we brought you news and video of a Massachusetts woman’s racist rant that allegedly led to the firing of a black employee at the US postal service. The event took place last year, but video of the woman’s tirade came to light this month after part of it was uploaded to YouTube. Now, there are more details about the worker who endured the rant, conflicting reports on what exactly led to his firing, and new information on the troubled woman who catapulted his case to Internet fame.
The victim of the rant is 47-year-old Hugson Jean, while the woman caught on tape is 60-year-old Ericka Winchester. The two faced a showdown in October of 2009 when Jean attempted to deliver a certified letter to Winchester’s home in Hingham, Mass. After initially signing for the letter, Winchester tried to give it back. When Jean refused, Winchester became enraged and allegedly slapped Jean before settling into a barrage of racial epithets. Ironically, Jean says that it was Winchester who gave him the idea to record the incident in the first place, noting her reaction to him as he attempted to call his supervisor.
"When I picked up my cell phone, she said she did not care if I videotaped her," Jean told Wicked Local Hingham.
So far, the video has been viewed on YouTube over 150,000 times and has sparked outrage among viewers. Winchester has reportedly received threats and has police monitoring her home.
After the incident, police summonsed Winchester to court to face assault and hate crime charges. Police claim that Jean did not want to press charges. He claims that while he did not want Winchester to arrested, he did want her to be prosecuted, and was surprised when police dropped the charges. According to local news reports, Jean says he was never notified of the charges being dropped and has been unable to obtain official court transcripts of the proceedings.
Yet all of this seems to be just the latest and most publicized event involving Winchester. According to postal service employees, she had previously been banned from from the post office. The Smoking Gun also posted Hingham police reports that showed Winchester had been arrested for drunk driving and trespassing at a community theatre, where she had allegedly warned cast members that they would "get it with a machine gun." The report also claimed that she threatened to "chop off" the arresting officer’s genitals.
For his part, Jean says he wishes he had known about Winchester’s previous post office ban.
"Had I know that I would have conducted myself differently," he told reporters.
Jean says that he was fired because of the incident, and only uploaded the video to YouTube after it became clear that officials at the US Postal Service weren’t going to take his assault claim seriously. USPS officials admit that the video is "disturbing", but insist that it had nothing to do with Jean’s firing — a claim with which union officials agreed. Jean was only on the job for nine months, and has been unemployed since his termination. Meanwhile, he’s still appealing his case.
Jean also says that when he initially showed the video to his employers, they tried to "laugh it off." He’s also insistent about having faced racial discrimination from USPS officials.
"They thought if they did not deal with it, it would just disappear," he told Wicked Local Hingham. "They did not want a black person in there."
Jean says that he suffered from blurry vision after his encounter with Winchester, but when he asked for an injury form, he didn’t receive one until after the 30-day window to submit had already passed.
Meanwhile, the United States Postal Service is sticking by their story.
"We immediately pursued this incident, through the local police, which, in turn, pressed charges," spokesperson Christine Dugas told local reporters. "That said, let me assure you that the employee’s job status has nothing whatsoever to do with the video. The Postal Service values our diverse workforce. In fact, Black Enterprise and Hispanic Business magazines ranked the Postal Service as a leader in workforce diversity."