Viral TikTok Capturing Racial Slurs Prompts City Official's Leave, Wife's Firing

An official in California has been placed on leave and his wife was fired from her job at a private school after the internet identified the couple for allegedly making racist comments towards Asian Americans in a viral TikTok.

On Monday, Coronado City Manager Tina Friend announced that "the person involved [in the video] has been placed on administrative leave pending an independent, full and fair investigation.''

A video posted to TikTok over the weekend showed a couple walking around Newport Beach. In the clip, the woman is heard saying, "America is a free country. Go back to China," before the couple gets in their car and allegedly gives the middle finger to the person recording.

"This racist couple started out calling us racial slurs out of nowhere and blamed Asians for starting COVID," a caption over the TikTok read. "They continued to say racist comments loudly for us to hear, so we confronted them."

The original post was deleted but screen recordings were re-uploaded to other platforms. The clip of the incident shared by @thatdaneshguy via Twitter has generated 261,000 views as of early Tuesday afternoon.

Social media users quickly identified the couple as Roger Miller, Coronado's director of recreation and golf services, and Sandra Miller.

"Yesterday, the City of Coronado learned of a video circulating on social media featuring the actions of a City employee. The makers of the video alleged the City employee made a series of racist statements leading up to the filming of the video," Friend said on Monday. "We acted immediately, and the person involved has been placed on administrative leave pending an independent, full and fair investigation."

"Our City's culture and values are core to who we are and that culture is based on professionalism, service and respect. We take matters such as this extremely seriously and the City has zero tolerance for all forms of discrimination," Friend added. She did not name Miller as the city employee.

Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey told CBS 8 that while he couldn't discuss specifics, the city is "taking the matter seriously and working to find out exactly what happened."

Racist Viral Video Tik Tok Firing
"This racist couple started out calling us racial slurs out of nowhere and blamed Asians for starting COVID," the TikTok user alleged. Above, people participate in a protest to demand an end to anti-Asian violence on April 04, 2021 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty

Linfield Christian School, a K-12 school in Temecula, also posted a statement on Monday announcing that Sandra Miller had been fired. It is unclear what position she held at the school.

"Linfield is aware of the video involving Ms. Sandra Miller. After speaking with Ms. Miller regarding the incident, Linfield has terminated her employment immediately," the school said. "The statements made by Ms. Miller do not reflect the beliefs of Linfield, are inconsistent with Linfield's mission statement and fail to meet the behavior Linfield expects employees to model for its students.''

Over the weekend, students at Linfield celebrated Chinese New Year. After the couple was identified, users flooded the comments section of Linfield's Facebook post of photos from the Chinese New Year event and demanded action from the school.

Asian Americans have been targets of a string of racist attacks over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. A national survey conducted by Stop Asian Hate estimates that nearly 1 in 5 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have experienced a hate incident in the last year.

Newsweek reached out to the office of Coronado City Manager Tina Friend for additional comment.