Indiana Daily Student

UPDATE: Two Bloomington residents receive protection order after alleged racism from property manager

<p>The Millenium Apartments complex is located at 1200 S. Rolling Ridge Way. A Millenium resident described an encounter with a staff member as “xenophobic, racial and disrespectful.&quot;</p>

The Millenium Apartments complex is located at 1200 S. Rolling Ridge Way. A Millenium resident described an encounter with a staff member as “xenophobic, racial and disrespectful."

Two Millenium Apartment residents received a two-year protection order after they alleged a former Hunter Bloomington properties regional manager perpetrated “xenophobic, racial and disrespectful actions” on Feb. 7.

Former regional manager Tracey Walker allegedly told IU graduate students Diego Barbosa-Vásquez, 30, and Angiee Liliana Rocha Parra, 30, six other adults and one three-year-old child to remove themselves from the apartments’ lounge on Feb 7, according to a Feb. 8 letter detailing the incident.

A judge granted the two-year protection order on March 3, Barbosa-Vásquez said.

Barbosa-Vásquez said Walker became more aggressive when he discovered the group spoke primarily Spanish, an action Barbosa-Vásquez perceived as racist.

“As soon as he listened to our accent he started to treat us different, yelling to us, calling us, ‘shut up,’ ‘get out,’” Barbosa-Vásquez said.

Related: [Hunter Bloomington Properties reinstalled appliances it took from tenants]

Later that evening, Barbosa-Vázquez said he and Parra could not access apartment amenities. After attempting to deliver their complaints to Walker in the apartments’ office on Feb. 8, Hunter Bloomington Properties sent an email to Barbosa-Vásquez stating access to apartment amenities was blocked for the two residents.

Hunter Bloomington Properties, which owns Millennium Apartments, alleged Barbosa-Vásquez’s group was trespassing, a claim Barbosa-Vásquez and Parra said was false.

Walker allegedly demanded the group leave the apartments’ lounge, making several insensitive comments, Barbosa-Vásquez said. Barbosa-Vásquez and Parra, both Millennium residents, six other adults and a three-year old child watched a movie in the apartments’ lounge on the afternoon of Feb. 7.

“We totally felt that was racist and xenophobic incident because the way that he yelled to us, because we were seeing Coco in Spanish,” Barbosa-Vásquez said.

Hunter Bloomington Properties did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the situation.

Walker said he no longer works for Hunter Bloomington Properties and did not respond to requests for further comments. His voicemail message still says Walker is with Hunter Bloomington Properties.

Multiple Hunter Bloomington Properties employees said they were not able to comment on the status of Walker’s employment.

Barbosa-Vásquez and Parra said they applied for a protective order through the Monroe County Clerk's office. They are also working with IU student legal services to determine legal compensation and contacted the Monroe County Sheriff, adding their address to their patrolling schedule so officers would survey the area on a regular basis.

Barbosa-Vásquez and Parra wanted a protection order from Walker because they are concerned he is able to enter their apartment, Barbosa-Vásquez said. 

“You cannot imagine the situation, just during the night, feeling that there is a guy that did all of that to us, and a guy that has access to our apartment and could do whatever he wants,”  Barbosa-Vásquez said. 

On Feb. 8, Barbosa-Vásquez and Parra sent a letter with details of the incident to multiple organizations, including the IU Office of International Services, Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs and the IU Board of Trustees.

The Monday after the incident, Barbosa-Vásquez and Parra attempted to deliver the incident report and demands to the apartments’ offices in person, Barbosa-Vásquez said. Walker did not allow his employees to receive the letter, the complaint alleged.

Hours later, Barbosa-Vásquez and Parra received an email from Clay Burnette, assistant regional manager of Hunter Bloomington Properties, saying the two residents’ amenity privileges were suspended indefinitely, according to a complaint filed with the Monroe County Human Rights Commision on Feb. 9.

The email said the ban was implemented because Barbosa-Vásquez, Parra and their guests refused to leave, trespassed in the Millennium amenity center when it was clearly marked closed, violated guest policy which only allows two guests per household and did not wear face masks, according to the complaint.

According to the Feb 8 letter, Walker said an email was sent to the group beforehand saying the room was under maintenance. 

Barbosa-Vásquez and Parra said all of these claims were false, according to the complaint. 

They said their group did not refuse to leave, they did not see a sign saying the area was closed when they entered the lounge, they were always wearing masks except to eat and they received no email about maintenance, according to the complaint.

Barbosa-Vásquez said the total number of guests reached eight adults and one child, not 10 and the apartment policy allowed two guests per resident, but two residents did not arrive because of the incident.

The original group allowed enough guests, Barbosa-Vásquez said.

Daniel Cueto, another person present that day, said Walker said a sign on the door stated the media lounge was closed on Feb. 7.

“He was saying things like, ‘Oh I guess you guys probably didn't understand the sign that was at the door,’ and we said, ‘Well, we didn't see a sign,’” Cueto said.

Cueto and Gloria Manzanares were both present with their three-year-old on Feb. 7, though they are not Millennium Apartment residents.

“As parents, we feel more vulnerable if people are attacking us in that way and our children are present, because it just makes for a more sensitive situation, and we found it to be a very disheartening situation, really,” Cueto said.

Parra said Walker presented himself as the owner of the apartments when he entered the lounge on Feb. 7, refused to give his name and asked to know in what apartment Parra and Barbosa-Vásquez lived. 

“He was asking our information, trying to threaten us,” Parra said. “But when we asked his name, he will respond ‘I'm Mickey Mouse.’”

As the group cleaned up the space and began to leave, Walker lost his keys and accused the group of stealing them, according to the Feb. 8 letter.

Walker then called the Monroe County sheriff, Barbosa-Vásquez said. Shortly after, Barbosa-Vásquez said his group also called the sheriff. 

Walker continued to accuse them of theft without evidence, Barbosa-Vásquez said. Monroe County Sheriff’s officers arrived and spoke with both Walker and members of Barbosa-Vasquez’s group.

“And the sheriff obviously said, ‘Look, you cannot say that without any proof,’” Barbosa-Vásquez said.

Barbosa-Vásquez and Parra received a case number from a Monroe County Sheriff on Feb 7. Walker found the keys minutes later, according to the Feb. 8 letter.

Walker later used the lounge to host his own guests after Parra and Barbosa-Vásquez’s group left, Parra and Barbosa-Vásquez alleged in the Feb. 8 letter.

Walker was not available for comment on this issue.

Later in the same day, Barbosa-Vásquez and Parra discovered their access was blocked to Millennium's amenities including the gym, lounge, pool tables and piano. Their access to the amenities was still blocked as of Feb. 28.

“I am a conductor, this is affecting my career,” Barbosa-Vásquez said.

While reporting the issue to the property management at Millennium Apartments, Barbosa-Vásquez alleges Walker emerged from his office and said they would be “punished” and would receive an email from Hunter Bloomington soon.

Barbosa-Vásquez also said they received an email from a Hunter Bloomington employee the Tuesday after the incident requesting their videos of the events to share with the property owner, but Barbosa-Vásquez said he responded over email that he and Parra would wait for their lawyers to assess the situation.

Though the letter was written before Barbosa-Vásquez and Parra spoke with lawyers, they originally stated demands in the conclusion of the Feb. 8 letter. As of Feb. 28, they were working with IU student legal services to determine how to legally establish their demands.

Barbosa-Vásquez and Parra demanded a public apology from Hunter Bloomington Properties, Millennium Apartments and Walker to the eight adults and one child involved, “substantial compensation,” training for Hunter Bloomington Properties employers to ensure they never abuse any resident or person again and an “exemplary sanction” on Walker assuring he could never perpetrate the actions of Feb. 7 ever again, according to the letter.

This article was updated at 12:13 p.m. on March 9, 2021.

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