An Indianapolis welder says he has no regrets after filming a group of construction workers walk off the job in protest, an action that ultimately cost him his job.
Antoine Dangerfield, 30, captured the moment dozens of his Mexican co-workers stormed off the shop floor last week after suffering racist harassment and bullying at the hands of a white supervisor. Video of the impromptu strike went viral as Dangerfield wowed social media viewers with his enthusiastic, yet biting, commentary on what was going down.
For him, it was the solidarity amongst Mexican workers that stuck out the most.
“They are not bullshitting!” Dangerfield narrates as workers are seen packing their things and leaving. “They (company bosses) thought they was gonna play with these amigos, and they said, ‘aw yeah, we rise together, homie.’ And they leaving!”
“… This is what Black people need to be on,” he added. “Black [people] take some notes. We need this.”
After sharing the video, however, Dangerfield said he lost his job. The welder, who was tapped for a team lead position working as a contracted construction worker, was initially offered $250 take the video down — but the clip had already taken off by then.
“It was at 1.1 million views on Facebook at that point,” he told Jacobin Magazine. “So there was nothing I could do. I was shocked.”
In an interview with the magazine, Dangerfield detailed what was going on at the site and, more specifically, what led to Wednesday’s walkout. The 30-year-old welder explained that several contractors were working to build a UPS superhub in Indianapolis. However, Latino workers had taken issue with a white safety coordinator who would regularly pick on them and harass them on the job.
“He was just a racist, basically — always messing with anybody who’s not white,” Dangerfield said of the safety coordinator. He was just “always messing with them, taking pictures and videos, trying to get them fired.”
Tensions came to a head after a staff meeting when the safety coordinator asked one of the Mexican workers come up and translate. The employee refused, saying he didn’t want to do it, after which the coordinator grew visibly upset and dismissed the meeting.
Moments later, he started sending workers home, one by one.
“He was walking around just sending them home, trying to fire them. So he sent like five or six of them home,” Dangerfield told the magazine. “So the Hispanics got together and were like, ‘Nah. We got families and kids. We are not about to let these dudes just do whatever.’ So they took a stand.”
Dangerfield said seeing the workers’ come together in solidarity touched his heart.
“I just felt that power, man,” he added. “They were walking out with their heads up, strong. It touched me. That’s why I was like, wow, this is beautiful. It was beautiful that they came together like that — stood up for themselves and not let that dude walk all over them.”
Since his firing, a GoFundMe page has been launched to help Dangerfield with his day-to-day expenses. The page has already amassed over $35,000 in donations. The welder publicly thanked supporters on his Facebook page.
“That’s why I’m not mad about the video, about getting fired,” he told Jacobin Magazine. “Because it’s five million people who saw that. And it might change their view on things … So me losing a job is nothing compared to the big picture.”
The disliked safety coordinator was also fired.