Audio recordings spark controversy

Los Medanos College faces ire on social media.


Michael Benedian

One of the videos that was spread online featured the audio recording of an alleged manager making insensitive remarks.

Michael Benedian, Editor-in-Chief

Los Medanos College is under fire after an audio recording was leaked on social media with what has been described as insensitive remarks by a college department manager about “Black people,” prompting a rare response to the allegations from the college president. 

One social media post on TikTok in particular, containing the alleged recordings of someone who has been described as an LMC manager, was viewed more than 80,000 times and liked and shared more than 7,500 times as of publication.

The audio, which has not been independently verified by the Experience, features an apparent male voice saying things such as “most white people I know look at Black people like different types of people,” while also complaining about the use of “that coconut oil.”

More than 12 videos calling out LMC and the Contra Costa Community College District were originally posted on TikTok, a popular video sharing app — before also being shared on other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram — by a social media racial justice activist and by an individual who identifies himself as an LMC employee.

LMC President Bob Kratochvil sent two collegewide emails last month reinforcing the college’s stance against systemic racism and addressing what he describes as “several recent social media posts that contain disturbing information and reference to Los Medanos College.”

The parties involved in this ongoing personnel investigation, including the manager, were placed on paid administrative leave by the District in June 2022, and – as is the practice with paid administrative leaves – have been directed to not return to any District owned or operated facility,” Kratochvil wrote in the email.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Experience asked Kratochvil to clarify which “social media posts” he was referencing in the emails he sent out to the campus community. Kratochvil specifically confirmed two TikTok posts, one which featured a video of a woman reacting to audio recordings of someone making insensitive remarks toward Black people and another including an alleged email to an employee from the college district referencing an investigation into an alleged threat of violence by a college manager.

Kratochvil would not comment to the Experience Wednesday on an ongoing investigation but reaffirmed that the involved parties — a manager and two employees — were put on paid administrative leave.

We strive to provide an equitable learning and working environment for all students and employees, and to strengthen a culture of equity, diversity, inclusion, and racial justice,” Kratochvil previously wrote. “To realize these goals, we must continue our collective pledge to stand against racism on all fronts at the college.”

How it all unfolded

On Oct 21, TikTok user Auntkaren0, who has more than 1.6 million followers, posted a video which included the audio recording previously mentioned and demanded the college provide information about it. Auntkaren0, who has been identified in online media reports as Denise Bradley, dedicates her online presence to fighting racism and holding people accountable for their use of racial slurs or engaging in discriminatory behavior including naming the racist of the day. The video shows Bradley in a vehicle and green screened over the LMC website while reacting to the leaked audio.

“Now I’m not asking but I’m demanding that the college provide us some sort of information about these incidents,” Bradley said. “It is up you, the college, to provide us with an understanding and making sure the campus is safe for your students and that discrimination does not happen.”

Bradley’s video has since spread online through various social media sites, where it caught the attention of LMC officials.

Juliet Casey, director of Marketing and Media Design for the college, said concerns about institutional racism are nothing new and LMC “has been working to create a more welcoming, inclusive and equitable environment to learn and work.”

“From the moment the social media posts came to our attention, the strategy was to act quickly and transparently, and to provide an opportunity for the campus community to work together to combat institutional racism,” Casey said.

A campus-wide email was then sent by Kratochvil Oct. 23 indirectly referencing the social media posts as well as expressing LMC’s commitment to anti-racism.

The following day, another set of videos were posted on TikTok by an alleged LMC employee who said he had worked with the manager under investigation who is allegedly heard on the audio recording. The employee claimed that not only is the alleged manager racially insensitive but he also criticizes the college’s handling of the allegations.

“Everything I’m saying I just want you guys to understand that I have proof in what I’m saying and that I will reveal the proof via audio, via images, via things that I know,” said the alleged employee.

The LMC Experience attempted to reach out to the manager and the employee allegedly described to be under investigation but have not yet been successful.

In a second email to all LMC employees sent Oct 27, Kratochvil wrote that because the content of the videos are related to an ongoing personnel investigation, he is unable to provide specific details to the public but realizes that the insufficient information may have raised concerns among members of the campus community.

“The parties involved with the investigation have been put on paid administrative leave by the district back in June and have been directed to not return to any district owned or operated facility,” Kratochvil wrote. “We recognize that the issues, concerns, and feelings brought up by these social media posts extend beyond this particular matter – they can’t be sufficiently addressed only through emails, aren’t going to be alleviated by simply reaffirming our institutional values and commitments, and certainly won’t be resolved quickly.”

In response to the social media posts, LMC repurposed Monday’s College Assembly (see accompanying story)  to focus on the topics of combating racism, inequalities and anti-Blackness, along with addressing the concerns of employees. Kratochvil said he invited them to attend and share their thoughts on how LMC can move forward together and identify ways to work toward building a culture of trust, understanding and safety on campus.

— Kai Arellano, Juan Cebreiros and Mohammad Najimi contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note: This is a developing story.