The man who was caught on video yelling an anti-Black slur against a New York City sanitation worker over the weekend apologized after becoming the subject of online scrutiny.
Joseph O'Brien is the 25-year-old seen on the video getting out of his vehicle on East 85th Street in the Upper East Side to yell at the sanitation worker to "get out of the middle of the street," followed by expletives and the racial slur. He admitted to using the N-word twice during the interaction, and said it is not a word he typically uses.
"I don't see myself as racist at all, but that day I was racist. And that was completely uncalled for and not okay," O'Brien said.
O'Brien was recognized by many after the video was posted online. His former employer, adult film company Helix Studios, said the entertainer who went by the name Dustin Gold hasn't worked for the company since 2014 and confirmed that it will be removing all videos that feature him.
When asked if he was apologizing because he felt sorry or if because it was all caught on camera, he said his feelings were real.
"I do feel genuine remorse," O'Brien said, adding that he didn't know the sanitation worker at all. "The last thing I want to do is make the community uncomfortable, that's why I want to make things right and I want to make things better."
He said he hopes he won't face any charges for the incident.
After O'Brien got back in his vehicle, he noticed someone was recording him and asked what they were going to do with the video. The witness said, "I'm going to put this on YouTube."
O'Brien responded by telling the man to do it, because he'd "get fans." The witness started to walk away but said he wasn't going anywhere, which is when O'Brien threatened to beat him up. He then got out of his car, took the phone out of the witness's hand and threw it across the street.
The person who recorded the incident, who didn't want his name shared, said he did it because he thought the man he was filming "should be held accountable."
"Before I had even started to film, I went to the sanitation worker first just to ask if I heard was actually what he was saying, because I was in disbelief," the man said. "It was just so unbelievable to see and hear this on a street in New York in 2020."
He said he was simply standing up for what's right was the right thing to do.
"I think to be anti-racist, you can't just be passive, you need to take a stand when they can't stand up for themselves," he said, adding that he hopes his actions will inspire people to stand up, and to not ignore it when things like this happen.
"I hope it sends the message that we should look out for one another. When we see hate we should try to confront it," he said.
While the victim said he doesn't wish to press charges, the NYPD said they are investigating. After video of the incident was sent to City Hall, leaders said they are taking a deeper look into the incident, telling NBC New York "These are disgusting words and actions that have no place in New York City. Whoever this person thinks they are, they deserve to be brought to justice."
City Council candidate Anthony Beckford brought attention to the video, and said "You could tell he felt too comfortable stating the N-word. Then to assault the person, this is a sense of entitlement that needs to be nipped in the bud."
Beckford says he's thankful for the witness who exposed this behavior. O'Brien also apologized to Beckford, and said he will be avoiding the area around where Black Lives Matter protests take place every night and doesn't want to cause any trouble moving forward.
"Showing people who are racist, showing Black people who is racist and who is not. Hate has no place anywhere in our city," Beckford said.