Raleigh, North Carolina — A real estate company that backtracked on Monday and decided not to cut ties with a Raleigh agent who is the subject of a viral video has again changed its mind and is “dissociating” itself from her.
Gina Benthuysen, managing director of Raleigh-based Keller Williams Preferred, said in a statement Wednesday, “We have decided to disassociate ourselves from Kim Barnhart while we further investigate the facts of this matter.”
The video shows a showdown at the Lennox at Brier Creek pool on July 1. Those who posted it online say a woman made racist remarks telling them to leave the pool, but the woman involved, barhart, says she was just enforcing neighborhood rules to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Barnharta real estate broker from Keller Williams in Brier Creek, sits on the homeowners’ association board for the townhouse complex, and a resident called her to report that a group of teenagers who didn’t seem live in the neighborhood were at the pool drinking.
During the pandemic, the neighborhood is only allowing residents to use the pool.
“When I got there, there was a big group of teenagers I had never seen before, not a single one of them,” Barnhart said Monday. “I asked them who lived in the neighborhood, did any of them live in the neighborhood, and then they all looked at each other, and no one said they were doing.”
When she asked them to leave, she said, the group became belligerent.
“They were mooning me, raising their middle fingers,” she said. “They surround my car. I had to get in my car and roll up my windows telling them that if they don’t listen to me, I should call the police.”
Curt Hamilton posted on Facebook that he and all the other members of the group were 21 and “were racially profiled and kicked out of a neighborhood pool.” Two of his friends – an African American and a Latina – live in Lennox in Brier Creek and that Barnhart focused on them.
Hamilton did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
In the video he posted, Barnhart made no reference to anyone’s ethnicity.
Clara Blanca, the Latina’s mother speaking on video, said on Monday that Barnhart said, “They don’t belong here” and “Why don’t you go back to Mexico?”
“The only thing they could have misrepresented was that they didn’t belong in the neighborhood pool as a resident,” Barnhart said. “We never discussed Mexico or anyone’s origin – absolutely not, absolutely not true.”
Keller Williams chief executive Gary Keller posted online July 2 that the company was setting up a task force to come up with plans “to eliminate all racial disparity within our company, our industry and how we can lead the way in the communities where we live and work.”
The following day, the company announced that it was investigating Barnhart’s actions in light of the viral video.
Assistant crew chief Eric Anderson said Monday that Keller Williams was “returning Kim Barnhart’s dismissal,” noting that company officials had “new information and video” about the Raleigh incident.
Anderson said it was clear from the video that the crowd at the pool was breaking the rules and behaving badly and that there was “absolutely no evidence” that Barnhart used racial slurs.
“If you do something wrong, own it. Don’t make up stories,” he said of the crowd at the pool.
Benthuysen’s statement said Anderson’s comments were premature and no final decision had been made.