UP IN SMOKE
Did Racist Rant Smoke NJ’s Vape Van?
After an employee was caught shouting racial epithets at passersby, city officials are pursuing a suspension of the van’s business license.
A racist rant could send Hoboken, New Jersey’s Vape Van skidding to a halt.
The Ninth Cloud Vape Van sells smoking accessories — and according to its Instagram, hoverboards — from a van spray-painted with what appears to be a vaping white woman in a Native American headdress. The van usually stations itself on Washington Street in Hoboken, where it sells flavored vape juices to passersby like an ice cream truck for smokers. But viral video of a Vape Van employee shouting racist epithets at an immigrant couple on Saturday could send the whole company up in smoke.
The video, recorded on Washington Street on Saturday, shows a Vape Van employee shouting at an immigrant couple during an altercation.
“Go back to your fucking country, you fucking immy,” the employee yells at the couple in the video. He repeats the slur multiple times. “Trump, n*gga,” he shouts.
A friend of the victims’ son uploaded the video to Facebook, where it had garnered 200,000 views by Thursday.
Now two Hoboken city council members want to strip the Vape Van’s vendor license over the incident.
“As proud sons of immigrants, we write to express our complete disgust with the hate incident involving the owner of the Vape Van vendor truck in Hoboken, New Jersey," Councilmen Ravi Bhalla and Ruben Ramos wrote in a joint statement. "This conduct has no place in Hoboken. This individual’s actions do not reflect the views of businesses or residents in Hoboken. Hoboken is a city of immigrants, and we take great pride in this tradition."
The pair are supporting a resolution to revoke the van’s license, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer told NJ.com.
Shortly after the video was uploaded to Facebook, Ninth Cloud Vape Van issued an apology across social media.
“The verbal exchange soon escalated against our favor. We regret to admit insulting racial slurs were made by a member of our team,” the company posted on Facebook and Instagram Sunday afternoon, even admitting that the confrontation had lasted longer than the video showed. “The exchange from start to finish went on for about 10 minutes, the recording shows the last few minutes.”
The company originally pledged to take full responsibility for the incident.
“We sincerely apologize to all and anyone who is a part of the family, and to all who may have found our actions offensive. This public statement is in no way a justification for any of our actions. We are taking full responsibility for this situation and will act in any way possible to assure anything like this does not happen again.”
But several hours later, the company apparently recanted on its pledge for full responsibility. On Sunday night, the Vape Van Facebook page began lacing into Alan Slaughter, the Facebook user who uploaded video of the incident.
“This is the truth behind this Guy 'Alan slaughter' posting videos in reference to 9thcloudvape,” the page posted. The person, whose spelling was significantly worse than the language in the Vape Van’s formal apology, also posted alleged screenshots of what they implied was a damning conversation with Slaughter:
“I am an immigrant, I would request you to please take down your post,” a person claiming to be a Vape Van employee texted Slaughter.
“What would I get out of that request?” Slaughter replied. “People deserve to see this, there’s no incentive here for me to take it down.
The Vape Van employee went on to offer cash and favors, which Slaughter evidently did not accept, as the video remained online. But Ninth Cloud Vape Van posted partial screenshots of the exchange and suggested that Slaughter had only posted the video to extract a favor from the company.
“This is what this all comes down to Business and Politics asking favors,” the Vape Van Facebook post accused. “The video is just 50% of the story, And 2 people arguing on the street doesnt mean it had anything to do with the Business or representation of it, I am sure aftr these picture's people are smart enough to Understand.”
The Vape Van’s attempt to shift blame appeared unsuccessful. As of Wednesday, 375 people had signed a petition to rescind the van’s vendor license, and Hoboken’s mayor had twice condemned the Vape Van on Twitter.
“The hate speech by the Vape Van owner is reprehensible and does not represent Hoboken’s diverse and inclusive community,” Zimmer tweeted.
The Vape Van’s website appears to have been deleted.