The tension at the Main Street post office in Los Altos was palpable on the afternoon of July 23. A white woman, upset over a trivial matter, was berating an Asian postal clerk.
The verbal assault was bad enough for at least two bystanders to act. Tyler Brumfield began recording on his phone. Next to him, Susan Stone dialed the nonemergency number for the Los Altos Police Department. As the clerk walked away from the counter, the irate woman – wearing a mask and carrying a dark blue duffel bag – stared ahead, watching.
There was silence for approximately 20 seconds. Brumfield kept recording.
Then, the woman – under her breath – muttered: “C**nk.”
After a split-second pause, Brumfield and Stone simultaneously realized what just happened.
“W-Whoa! Whoa!” Brumfield exclaimed. “That is not acceptable.”
“Hey, not appropriate! Absolutely not,” Stone chimed in, while still on the phone with the police operator. “We need help at the Los Altos post office on Main Street. There’s a woman totally out of control here. She’s screaming loudly. She’s yelling racist things. We need help.”