Update: After this story was published, Wilton Manors Police confirmed the altercation took place in nearby Oakland Park, not Wilton Manors, as viral posts online had claimed. After the incident occurred at the corner of Oakland Park Boulevard and North Dixie Highway Tuesday, Aimable reported the incident to the Broward County Sheriff's Office, which patrols Oakland Park. New Times has reached out to BSO for more information.
Geminia Aimable says she had never been called the N-word until last Tuesday. The Hollywood, Florida resident says she was driving through Wilton Manors earlier this week in her U.S. National Guard uniform when a motorist in a green polo shirt and sunglasses cut her off on the road, followed her through town, got out of his car at a red light, and screamed that he hates seeing black people in military uniforms.
"He comes banging on my window cursing me out... and proceeding to call me a nigger," she wrote in a Facebook post that has now gone viral online. "Told me to never forget that I am nothing but a nigger and that us niggers do not deserve to serve this very country and to take off my uniform and to kill myself. I cannot believe that he said that to me. Not like I provoked him. He told me it pisses him off that we as African Americans are allowed to be in the military."
Aimable did not immediately respond to messages from New Times, but today Wilton Manors Police confirmed the social media uproar has sparked an investigation. (Police have yet to identify the man or substantiate Aimable's claims, so New Times has chosen not to publish the photo she took of him during the incident and posted on Facebook.)
"We are aware of it, and we do have our detectives looking into it," police spokesperson Jennifer Bickhardt tells New Times. Though she says Wilton Manors PD is unaware of any calls Aimable or her friends might have made to the department, "we have been notified through all the Facebook likes and comments. It's a terrible posting, so we are looking into it."
If Aimable's story checks out, it's possible the man violated state stalking, harassment, and hate-crime laws.
The post exploded when Intercept columnist and social-justice activist Shaun King shared the image and mounted a social media manhunt for the man in the green polo. In an interview with the liberal online news outlet Raw Story, Aimable said that she had to resist the urge to get out of her car and fight but that she didn't want to stoop to his level.
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"With this uniform comes a lot of power and responsibilities,” she said. “There are moments where I wish I could join friends in protest. Instead, I write poetry on equality for all, especially the LGBT community and poetry on racism.”
The incident is in line with what many hate-crime-tracking organizations say has been a return to old-timey racism since Donald Trump's election: Hate crime reports have increased in frequency since November, and a joint New Times-ProPublica investigation this year noted that hate incidents have spiked statewide as well. Infamously, a white Miami man last November screamed "I voted for Trump!" at a black Starbucks barista after she took too long to make his coffee. He then called her "trash."
But the incident Aimable describes is clearly far worse. She says she was stalked for several blocks, allegedly because a man simply saw a black person in a military uniform and flew into a rage. According to her Facebook profile, Aimable attends Florida Atlantic University and has been a private first class in the Army National Guard since 2015. The Florida National Guard confirmed Aimable is a member assigned to the 356th Quartermaster Company, the guard's armory in Fort Lauderdale.