A webinar last month was marred when someone used the name of a real estate executive to post a racist comment about one of the event’s speakers.
Cushman & Wakefield broker Charlie Stephens was conducting his weekly “Leaders Live Show” with guest David Moreno Jr., a Black attorney and co-founder of branding agency Mediabundance, when 18 minutes into the chat a listener wrote: “Yo moreno want chicken wings for dinner ??”
In that moment, the two were discussing the importance of calling out racism. Stephens and Moreno ignored the comment at the time, but took to LinkedIn later to condemn it.
The remark was posted by an individual who signed into the event as “Juda Srour, CEO.” That is the name of the chief executive of flexible-office company Jay Suites.
When contacted by The Real Deal, Srour was shocked, saying he had not heard about the comment. “I would never do such a thing,” he said. Moreno later got in touch with Srour, who explained he had been impersonated.
“Who could do this?” Srour wondered, trying to think of possible competitors, vendors or even disgruntled tenants. “I try to be nice to everyone.”
Srour said he followed up with YouTube and the police to try to determine who commented using his name — an offense which is considered a misdemeanor.
In an interview, Moreno said, “What really bothers me is to be a minority and have all these barriers we face as a community, and then there I was … trying to help everyone — and it was so hurtful and disheartening. The words, these affect me, but how would they affect someone else who doesn’t have a voice to call it out?”
Moreno added that he would love to find out what the commenter hoped to accomplish. “I’d love to have a dialogue and explain to him why it’s hurtful and why we need to eliminate this narrative and rhetoric,” he said.
YouTube has removed the comment and is investigating the identity of the impersonator, according to Srour.
Stephens addressed the issue on LinkedIn.
“We unfortunately received a racist remark in the live feed comments and it really pissed me off,” Stephens wrote. “I’d much rather promote David’s positive message than highlight the negative. With that being said, everyone should note that these racists do exist in our society and their actions are completely unacceptable.”