PETALUMA (KPIX 5) – A North Bay community came together to support a Latino family that was verbally assaulted by a neighbor for playing music in Spanish on the 4th of July.
A festive block party was held in the neighborhood Sunday, just days after the family received a surprise visit by their backyard neighbor.
The cellphone camera video recorded at the time is pointed downward at first, as an angry white man is heard scolding the family at their front door for playing their music in Spanish on Independence Day.
“You want to do that on 4th of July? You want to come in my country on the 4th of July?” the man was heard saying.
The Facebook video posted by Ivette Celedon on Thursday has nearly a million-and-a-half views. It eventually shows the neighbor’s face.
KPIX 5 tried to talk to the man in the video, identified as Larry Lappin, but nobody was home Sunday. Lappin told reporter Joe Vazquez by phone last week that he is sorry, that he made a “huge mistake.”
Lappin said he had been drinking. He said he had no problem with the volume of his neighbor’s music and it wasn’t like it was playing late at night, it’s just that he took it personally to hear the Spanish lyrics.
“Sometimes I wish they would assimilate more. I hear them playing [Spanish language] music in the backyard all the time and it doesn’t bother me. Because of the day and what July 4th means to me, I felt disrespected,” he said.
On Sunday, the same music that was playing on July 4th, songs by the legendary Vicente Fernandez, blared during a block party organized by a group called Indivisible Petaluma.
“All these people are coming together out of the kindness of their heart and showing that Petaluma is kind and it’s not about the thing we had to experience in our family,” Celedon told KPIX 5.
Celedon said she is a third generation American and her husband is second generation. She has family members who served in the Armed Forces.
“We’re here for Ivette,” said Zahyra Garcia of Indivisible Petaluma. “And we want to let the other bigots know in Petaluma that it’s not okay in our town.”
Lappin apologized to Ivette’s father-in-law. The family said they do not accept the apology.
“If he had the courage to walk over here and knock on our door and say that, then that’s what he really feels,” Celedon said.