On Monday, May 2nd, I went in the Hilltop YMCA studio for a Step group exercise (4300 Lakeside Drive, Richmond, CA). When I picked up an unattended fitness step from the floor, a woman member showed up immediately and shouted “Uh-uh. That’s mine.” I politely replied, “I’m sorry." Later, someone else came in and used that step. The woman didn’t show up until the class ended.
On Wednesday, May 4th, I went to the studio again for another Step class. When I picked up a single step riser from two unattended piles of five, the same woman came to me again and said that both entire piles belonged to her. (She must be very good at Step to use 10 risers.) The instructor came to me and told me that there were Step risers in the closet, and then greeted the woman warmly. After I took some risers from the closet and put them on the floor, the woman and her friend came in and kicked my step risers away. When I tried to put the risers back, she shoved me, shouting, “You can’t put it here.” I asked “Why not,” and she started shouting at me, yelling insults including “Because you are rude”, “You took somebody’s stuff”, “Shut up”, and “***”... These women were picking on me and slandering me as a thief in public. Is it because I am a new member and they have been members for a long time (as the police told me afterwards)?
A man (who claimed that he was the YMCA manager) came in while the women were shouting; asked me to get out of the studio immediately, while allowing the two women to stay. In his office, I told the manager that the two women kicked my steps and insulted me. The manager didn’t show surprise or sympathy, but instead looked out the window from time to time while I was talking. (The police officer, on the other hand, was very surprised that the woman was so rude as to kick out my step riser when I reported the incident to him afterwards.) The manager asked me to leave the YMCA facility immediately, promising that he would make the two women go too. After I left his office, the two women came in. Through the office window, I could see the manger greeting the two women with a big laugh, followed by a pleasant chat.
Later, as I was driving away, I saw the woman walking back to the facility. Wondering if the woman was coming back to the facility and if the manager had broken his “promise,” I stopped my car and watched them. The two women, the manager, and a staff member were gathered around the entrance laughing, while giving high fives to each other. Without any inquiry of me as to why I was watching them, they called the police, accusing me “following” them.
On Friday, May 6, my husband and I visited the YMCA and tried to talk to the manager. The same staff member told us we couldn’t see him, and she wouldn’t allow us in because my membership had been suspended. When I asked about the two women, she was reluctant to confirm whether or not they were suspended from the facility as well. When I came back home, the manager had left a message that informed me that my membership had been suspended. The manager couldn’t tell me face to face while I was in YMCA? He arbitrarily suspended my membership without any communication with me.
On Thursday, May 12, my husband and I made an appointment with two YMCA directors (Branch Operations Director and Regional Executive Director of YMCA of the East Bay) trying to resolve this incident. When we had just sat down, they immediately informed us that they had decided to cancel my membership after discussing with the manager, the staff, the two women, and their long-time Step classmates. YMCA arbitrarily cancelled my membership without discussing it with me at all, before hearing my side of the story. They said they cancelled my membership because of the following behaviors: first, I was upset while I was being harassed. Second, I confronted the assault without leaving the spot (while the manager allowed the woman to shout at me in his presence). Third, without leaving the facility, I stopped watching the two women and the manager laughing and giving high fives (she explained that the woman “might” have come back to pick up something and couldn’t leave because I was watching). They repeated that I violated the “YMCA core values of caring, respect, responsibility and honesty” by the above three behaviors, while ignoring the fact I am the victim of harassment and assault. YMCA didn’t care, respect, take responsibility and be honest to me when dealing with this incident.
I believe Hilltop YMCA allow racial discrimination (I was the only Asian in the incident), let their members arbitrarily insult me, and then cover up their behavior because they are long term members with many friends there.
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