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Local teacher responds to viral video of her confronting protesters, said it was a moment of "anxiety, frustration, and panic"

Posted at 11:02 PM, Jun 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 17:09:46-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — After a video began circulating on social media of a local teacher threatening and swearing at Black Lives Matter protesters, that teacher is apologizing. Carrie Maxwell said what was seen in the video was a "captured moment of my anxiety, frustration and panic" for the safety of her family.

Maxwell was caught on video Friday yelling at protesters on a corner in her Northwest Bakersfield neighborhood. In the video, Maxwell is seen yelling, swearing and even threatening supposed protesters, including a young girl, according to the woman filming the video.

According to a statement released by the law offices of Kyle J. Humphrey, on behalf of Maxwell, she said, "My behavior was never intended in any way to diminish this important time in the life of our country. Like everyone else, I was horrified by the video of the murder of George Floyd. Every man, woman, and child deserves to be treated with dignity, compassion, and equality, regardless of the color of their skin, and every person deserves to live a life free of fear."

Maxwell went on to say in her statement that she had seen news coverage of protests turning into riots and, on Friday, heard protesters gathering and loudly chanting profanities near her home, and became overwhelmed with anxiety and fear. She said she is the primary caretaker for her 18-year-old autistic son and elderly mother who is extremely vulnerable to health complications.

Maxwell's attorney, Kyle J. Humphrey, reiterated her statements saying that after several weeks of being quarantined Maxwell just broke down. He noted that in the moment of panic, she said something "angry but not racist."

Sergeant Nathan McCauley of the Bakersfield Police Department said they did receive a police report regarding the video and is investigating it as a criminal threat.

Maxwell said in her statement that she had originally gone outside to ask the protesters to move the protest away from her home, which she noted is not shown in the video. She said when the woman filming the video became confrontational, she responded in an inappropriate manner.

"I never intended to cause fear. I never spoke to or threatened this woman’s daughter," Maxwell said in the statement. "I have never even been in a physical altercation in my life."

The woman filming the video, Erika Keener Baze, told 23ABC that she would like to accept the apology Maxwell released but does not see her statement as a legitimate apology.

"This is a press release from a lawyer that Ms. Maxwell has secured, full of excuses for Ms. Maxwell’s behavior," Blaze said.

Blaze said she felt the statement was released in response to media attention, and not directed towards her or her daughter.

Maxwell is a teacher with the Bakersfield City School District and has been a teacher for over 12 years, according to her attorney. Following the release of video, which has received more than 35,000 likes and 14,000 shares on Twitter, the school district releases the following statement:

The Bakersfield City School District strives to be a model of inclusion and equity for our students, staff, families and community members.

The District is aware of the incident that occurred on June 5, 2020 involving an employee. We do not condone nor endorse the action and behavior captured on the video.

The District is currently conducting an investigation into the incident. As this is a confidential personnel matter, we are unable to comment any further

You can read both Maxwell's and Blaze's full statements below:

Statement from Carrie Maxwell

I want to offer my sincerest apology to anyone who was hurt by my behavior in that video.

My behavior was never intended in any way to diminish this important time in the life of our country. Like everyone else, I was horrified by the video of the murder of George Floyd. every man, woman, and child deserves to be treated with dignity, compassion, and equality, regardless of the color of their skin, and every person deserves to live a life free of fear.

What you saw in that video was a captured moment of my anxiety, frustration, and panic for the safety of my family. I am the caretaker for my 18-year-old autistic son and my elderly mother who has COPD and is extremely vulnerable to health complications. I had seen news coverage of the protests turning into riots across the country and was aware that the protest near my home had turned to confrontation the day before. When I heard protesters gathering near my home, loudly chanting profanities, I became overwhelmed with anxiety and fear. I called the police and was told there was nothing they could do. I went out to ask the protesters to move the protest away from my home. This was not shown on the video that was posted. there was a woman who became confrontational and I responded in a inappropriate manner. I never intended to cause fear. i never spoke to or threatened this woman’s daughter. I have never even been in a physical altercation in my life.

I am humiliated by my actions.

I am heartbroken to think that any of my students or their parents might see that video and believe that it is in any way reflective of my values or views regarding race or inclusivity.

My family and my students are my greatest joys in life. I take pride in creating a classroom environment that is welcoming and safe for all my students, regardless of their race. In my twelve years of teaching, I have predominantly taught students of color. I have always been and will continue to be passionately protective of my students’ well-being. I work every day to ensure that my students are afforded every opportunity for success. As teachers, we are not only educators, but also counselors, social workers, guardian, and friends. I take pride in the relationships I have cultivated with my students and their parents. In the future I will continue to support and uplift my students and stand against inequality of all types.

Statement from Erika Keener Baze

As much as I would like to accept an apology, I do not see this as a legitimate apology. This is a press release from a lawyer that Ms. Maxwell has secured, full of excuses for Ms. Maxwell’s behavior. The lawyer sent the statement to every news station, but at no point in the statement was an apology directed at me or my daughter. This statement was issued days after the altercation, and only after her place of employment asked to speak with me and the news shared the video.

The letter also says that “I want to offer my sincerest apology to anyone who was hurt by my behavior in the video.” Ms. Maxwell, that is not an apology to myself or my daughter or even an apology for your actions, only an apology to those who are outraged by the video. It does not appear you are sorry, only sorry that you were caught by the public. The letter mentions that everyone should be treated with dignity, compassion, and equality and they deserve to live a life free of fear and I agree. Me and my daughter should have been met with respect that day and not put into a hostile environment you created.

I have seen many excuses in this letter. One such excuse is that you were experiencing “anxiety, frustration, and panic” over the protest. Being a mom, myself, who has volunteered countless times as my children’s school, and seeing how difficult and stressful managing a classroom can be, I would hate to see how you are in destress in a classroom that is likely overcrowded and loud. I am sorry to hear that your son was in distress. I understand that mental health is tricky to manage, however, if this was the case, then I fail to understand why you instigating conflict with the protesters instead of being inside keeping him occupied and redirecting him from that distress. I have similar concerns over you using your mothers COPD as a factor for your behavior. As a daughter to a mother with multiple health issues including COPD, congestive heart failure, severe anxiety, and more, if I were her caregiver, I would not be outside interacting with protesters if I were concerned about her vulnerable health during this Covid – 19 pandemic, risking bringing an infection inside the home.

You state in the press release that there was a woman who became confrontational. I am unsure whether you are trying to imply that I was that woman. I find that a highly problematic statement, given that I was merely walking to me car when you aggressively approached me and my daughter. Please release the video you recorded, because I know the truth and how it began. Lastly, you state “I never intended to cause fear I never spoke to or threatened this woman’s daughter.” I do not see any other way you threats could be interpreted. And whether your threats were directed at me, rather than my daughter, you should understand that any child who sees their parents threatened will feel threatened as well. I hope you understand the gravity of your actions on my daughter. Further, I watched you threaten to hit another protester with your car, which I find completely out of line due to what happened to Robert Forbes last week. You should reevaluate what you consider to be threatening. I also hope that going forward you reassess what you find to be appropriate, as far as methods of communication and considerate interactions with both adults and children, including those whose political views differ from yours.