Some drama arose on Car Internet today, as it often does. And today that involved a disgustingly racist tirade apparently sent from the official Instagram account of a noted tuner wheel company to a man who works with the company founder’s girlfriend. Naturally, the backlash is epic, and many of the company’s accounts are now on lockdown.
The messages were sent from the Instagram of WatercooledIND, well-known in the watercooled Volkswagen community for its cast and forged custom rims, typically priced between $1,250 and $3,999 a set.
They were either sent by company founder Chris Bosgraaf, or someone claiming to be him, to Dominic Lebron, who works with Bosgraaf’s girlfriend. (Jalopnik has reached out to Watercooled Industry and Bosgraaf for comment; we will update if we hear back.)
In the messages Lebron is accused of getting close with Bosgraaf’s girlfriend; the messages then threaten him with vitriolic racist language. In addition to the slurs, Lebron is called “lazy,” told to “fucking go pick my cotton,” and is told he can’t get “handouts” now that President Obama is leaving office.
You can see the messages below:
“Basically, me and Brittany [Bosgraaf’s girlfriend] work together and became pretty cool,” Lebron, who is black, told Jalopnik in an instant message exchange.
“About in August Brittany told me Chris read our texts and wasn’t happy about it. Nothing went on, but at the same time we were kinda flirty but nothing came from it. So I understood why he was upset.”
But that was back in August and months had passed without it coming up again, Lebron said. Until today. “Then this morning I woke up with this message on Instagram and I was in utter shock reading it,” he said.
Lebron added that Brittany’s sister is a coworker as well. Everyone knows everyone well. He said that he has “no clue” about what triggered this outburst.
The online reaction was, as you can expect, swift and unforgiving. The story has shot to the top of Reddit’s r/cars.
Supposedly, the screenshots were uploaded to Facebook earlier today, but have since been taken down, although a web page featuring the shots was made in its place.
One recently-established Instagram account purporting to represent Watercooled Industry claims that the account was hacked, although that particular post now appears to have been deleted.
And as you might expect, comments on the other posts show no mercy.
Bosgraaf’s girlfriend, Brittany Paris, also commented on Lebron’s Facebook post, defending Bosgraaf, reports Holland Sentinel:
“You guys do not know Chris on a personal level. He started his business with nothing. … The only concern here is the type of stuff he said and the type of person this makes him,” Paris wrote. “Obviously I am very upset and hurt of what he said to Dominic Lebron. Dom is a great work friend and that is strictly it.”
It’s a bizarre story, but one thing is clear: whoever sent those messages is a trash person with no business working in cars. Or anything.
(Thanks for all the tips!)