HOUSTON – In this day and generation, many confrontations are recorded on a cellphone. Last week, a cellphone video captured a man yelling at two Army recruiters, calling them “killers” in the middle of a Walmart.
The Army recruiters remained calm during the verbal attack.
“I’ve been in the Army (for) 10 years and that’s the first time it’s every happened to me,” said Staff Sgt. Santevius Davis.
Davis, along with Staff. Sgt. Linda Bates, stopped at the Walmart located at 5405 S Rice Ave. to buy something.
“While we were in Walmart walking around, a guy came up and started expressing his opinion,” Davis said.
“Honestly I was completely shocked because we are in Houston and the Houstonians are so supportive of the military,” Bates said. “When it first went on, I thought it was a joke. I was completely shocked because I’ve been in the Army for 14 years. It’s never happened to me.”
In the video, a man wearing a neon yellow shirt, a green hat and sunglasses appears to yell at the two soldiers who are wearing Army fatigues.
Both Davis and Bates have received kudos for how they handled the situation because they remained calm. Davis is heard in the video staying that this is why he puts on the uniform, to protect all aspects of freedom of speech.
“This is why we put on our uniform, so you can come out and express your opinions, however you see fit,” Davis said. “There are a lot of places where half the stuff he said, you wouldn't even be able to get it out before bad things happen to you, but this is why we do what we do, and for him to come up and disparage us like that, so he can exercise his First Amendment right, it’s just funny.”
“We were taught to face through adversity and take the high road and move on,” Bates said. “He was also very rude to the Walmart employees. A lot of people were trying to defend us as well, but we just moved on and carried on with our day.”
The Army recruiters said the man's outburst didn't end in the store.
“He followed us all the way back to our truck. It was way more disrespectful than what was caught on the clip,” Davis said.
“At one point, he did get a little close, but I didn't fear for my safety. I have a lot of Army training, so I know how to defend myself,” Bates said.
The two recruiters, who work with U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Houston, said that, at the end of the day, people are entitled to their opinions.
“We fight for you to be able to express your opinions and everything like that, however my mother always tells me there’s a right way and there’s a wrong way to do things,” Davis said.
“I want people to view us as human beings because, at the end of the day, I’m someone’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s daughter and sister. We’re human. We’re not killers. We’re not monsters or anything like that,” said Bates, who is the mother of three. “I serve so that all Americans can have freedom and express themselves and I too am a regular American that chose to serve.”