A woman at a farmers' market who berated a business owner for handing out pride flags went viral, resulting in the suspension of the event

The outcome of a scuffle over pride flags at a California farmers' market demonstrates how video footage of bad behavior is having a moment online.Alexander Spatari/Getty Images; @karli_harward/Twitter
  • After a video circulated showing a farmers' market official accosting a vendor for handing out LGBTQ pride flags, the organization will no longer run the local market.
  • "My job is to run the market, not to satisfy your political point of view," the executive director of the California Farmers' Market Association (CFMA) told business owner Dan Floyd. Gail Hayden later apologized for her comments and actions.
  • The video and its aftermath demonstrate a growing movement of people seeking justice online with videos of daily microaggressions.

The organization running the farmers' market in the small town of Livermore, Calif. has resigned after a video circulated online of its leader telling a vendor that he couldn't hand out rainbow LGBTQ pride flags.

In the June 7 video, Gail Hayden, who runs the California Farmers' Market Association (CFMA), tells vendor Dan Floyd, the owner of Dan Good Cookies, that he wasn't permitted to hand out the miniature flags to customers at the market.

"My job is to run the market, not to satisfy your political point of view," Hayden told Floyd, adding that it was "disturbing" that Floyd had apparently not read the 30 pages of the CFMA's manual which says that "petitions and flyer distributions are prohibited inside the market," according to NBC Bay Area. Advertisement

"I don't even care what the flags are for," Hayden also said in the video, which has 58,000 views on Twitter since its posting on Monday. "It has nothing to do with anything."

The City of Livermore has suspended operations of the market until further notice as it seeks a new management company.

Social media users have become increasingly comfortable posting videos and images that expose others' bad behavior, resulting in firing, expulsions, and other very real cocnsequences. In this case, the CFMA, which did not immediately return Insider's request for comment, quickly resigned from its post as the organizer of Livermore's market, Livermore's City Hall said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
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"The occurrence at the market that led to CFMA's resignation is not reflective of Livermore's values of inclusion and respect," the statement said, adding that the pride flag is flying outside of Livermore's City Hall. "The City Council believes that a city can best stand against bigotry, intolerance, and hate through leading by example and living our shared community values."

In an interview with Insider, Hayden said that the incident "has been taken out of proportion," and that the organization is "all-inclusive." Hayden said that she needed Floyd, who did not immediately return Insider's request for comment, to stop passing out the flags because nothing but food was allowed to be given out in that area, in order to comply with the CFMA's insurance policy. "We got cited for a musician selling a CD," she recalled. Because Floyd's stall was selling cookies, he couldn't then give out the other items in that same area. "It's equal across the board," she said. Livermore Pride Executive Director Amy Pannu had been working with Floyd to pass out the flags, according to a statement from Livermore Pride, before Hayden appeared to accost them. Hayden told Insider that Livermore Pride hadn't properly registered for the event, but the nonprofit said it disagreed. Advertisement

"This incident is not about the existence (of any) of rules and regulations, but rather about a targeted verbal attack against LGBTQ+ community members justified by invoking purported rules and regulations," the organization said in a statement.

"It's a huge misunderstanding because it was not targeted to anybody due to their sexuality," Hayden told Insider. "It's very unfortunate that this happened." Hayden added that she and her team are working on learning how to better handle such situations and that they've resigned from organizing Livermore's market because of the backlash to the video. "Obviously, we need to do better," she said. "I really feel bad that Dan felt that were singling him out."

Hayden also apologized for her comments and actions in a statement posted on the CFMA website. "While we were focused on enforcing the market's rules, we neglected to see the bigger picture Dan was expressing with his Pride flags," Tuesday's statement said. "The LGBTQ+ community deserves a tolerant environment to express and celebrate their identity. We should not have allowed the escalation of the conversation to take place and we apologize for the inaccurate implications that were made." Advertisement

The incident is the latest in a long line of "Karen" footage captured and spread online that often depicts white women who are perceived as acting inappropriately in public. In recent weeks, women have been called 'Karen' for calling the police on Black men, alleging McDonald's discrimination, and blocking parking spaces, among other incidents.

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