MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — A Middletown couple was arrested on Thursday and charged with disorderly conduct after they allegedly harassed employees of a local landscaping company and made racist comments.
Police said 63-year-old Robert Shaw and his girlfriend, 58-year-old Sherri Bourgeois-Williams, berated the employees of J. Martin Landscaping company, due to the noise from their work.
The above video is from the 5 p.m. newscast on 10/12/2023.
Jose Martin, who owns the company, said he and his brother were in the middle of a job when two neighbors who were upset about the noise confronted them and allegedly went on a racist rant.
Martin captured video of the alleged racist incident and posted it online.
During the video, police said Shaw and Bourgeois-Williams asked the employees if they had work visas and for their immigration status.
“This is why we need a border wall. Right here. This is why we need a border wall,” Shaw said in the video that shot by Martin.
Martin is from Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory.
In the video, Shaw and Bourgeois-Williams could be heard making the following comments: “’Do you have a visa?’ ‘Do you have a visa to be here?’ ‘You don’t have a visa?’ ‘You don’t even have a visa do you’? ‘You don’t have nothing to be here. Are you here legally?’”
Martin was jarred by the incident. He said he wants people to see the video, to know how not to treat people.
“I want to show the world that this is not right, and you never treat nobody the way they treat us,” Martin said. “We’re sad. We’re still sad. We’re mad. We’re still mad.”
News 8 spoke with Shaw, who said he and Bourgeois-Williams are sorry for how they acted in the video.
“We made a mistake. Again I was drinking,” Bourgeois-Williams said.
“I haven’t been myself lately. I have not been myself at all and definitely not a racist…. my son is Puerto Rican like I’m not a racist and I’m scared to death to even be here,” Shaw said.
The couple said garbage bags were left on their porch overnight, and they’ve gotten threats online.
The couple said they contacted police because of the harassment and threats they received after the video was posted.
“We’re waiting for somebody to come by and do a drive-by,” Bourgeois-Williams said. “You know, I mean, I can’t sleep.”
Martin said he does not believe that Shaw and Bourgeoise-Williams sorry for how they acted.
“I don’t think they are very sorry. I don’t think that they care,” Martin said.
Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim has apologized to Martin and his staff for the hurtful comments.
Middletown police reviewed the footage of the incident and determined that Shaw and Bourgeois-Williams hostile behavior prevented one of the employees from leaving.
After police consulted with Middletown Superior Court, an arrest warrant was secured for Shaw and Bourgeois-Williams.
The suspects both turned themselves into police for the active arrest warrants.
Both were charged with disorderly conduct and released on a $10,000 non-surety bond.
Shaw and Bourgeois-Williams are expected to appear in Middletown Superior Court on Oct. 26.