The CEO of an Arizona-based organic fertilizer company is expressing “deep regret” after going on a racist tirade against a Black Uber driver.
According to Phoenix’s ABC 15, AgroPlasma founder Hans Berglund is also now out of a job after video showed him cursing and hurling racial epithets at driver Randy Clarke after he politely asked that Berglund sit in the back seat.
A lawyer for the company confirmed Berglund no longer works there and that he’s since been replaced with an interim CEO.
“In light of the events of this past Friday, AgroPlasma CEO Hans Berglund has been relieved of his duties while the company performs a full internal investigation,” Matt Brill said in a statement, adding that the incident “is not at all reflective of AgroPlasma’s values and ethics.”
The incident in question unfolded last Friday when Clarke, 25, picked up the local businessman for a ride. The local college student has more than 1,400 Uber rides under his belt and boasts a perfect driver rating on the ride-sharing app. He allows his passengers to ride in style, but asks that they follow one simple rule: take the back seat.
Clarke says use of the front seat is reserved for parties of three or more — a change he made in 2018 after being sexually assaulted by an intoxicated passenger.
“He was drunk, grabbed my crotch. I said, ‘Whoa, you can’t be doing that’ and ended the ride,” he recalled.
Clarke asked Berglund to get in the back for their ride last week, however, the CEO refused. Video of the incident shows Berglund growing enraged at the request.
“Are you f—–g serious with me?” he asks.
Clarke responds: “No, I don’t like when people sit in the front. I’ll cancel and refund your trip.”
The men engage in a brief back-and-forth before they agree to cancel the trip. But then Berglund finally makes his way to the back seat.
“I’m here, sitting in the back,” he says despite Clark’s repeated requests for him to to exit the car. “”Is it because I’m white? And you’re a f—–g n—-r? You’re a f—–g idiot.”
Clarke said the heated exchange left him in total shock.
“I shamelessly felt like laughing because I did not know this was real,” the driver told ABC 15. “It’s not just any word.”
Berglund has since apologized for his racist tirade.
“I deeply regret and apologize for the hurtful and derogatory language I used during the altercation with Mr. Clarke,” he said after being contacted by the news station. “I firmly believe there’s no excuse for the use of racial slurs under any circumstance, so I will not offer any.”
“It is my sincere hope that Mr. Clarke hears and accepts my apology and believes me when I say it is honest and heartfelt,” he concluded.
Berglund’s user account with Uber has also been temporarily blocked pending an investigation.
Watch more in the video below.