“Can you tell me why I should cry for him?” Other than that, it’s the blank thing to do – other than that, give me another reason, “he asked a Minneapolis gym owner who asked why the brand hadn’t released statement on protests across the country after the death of George Floyd. .
The 75-minute Zoom call, which was sent to BuzzFeed News via its secure triage line, was part of an initiative CrossFit launched following the closure of the gym across the country by the coronavirus pandemic. CrossFit affiliate owners who spoke with BuzzFeed News said they have been randomly invited to registration calls in the past three months with Glassman and other staff at CrossFit headquarters.
The call came hours before Glassman responded to a tweet on Saturday night that called racism a public health problem, writing, “It’s FLOYD-19.” His tweet sparked immediate backlash from gym owners and prompted Reebok to terminate a partnership agreement with the company. CrossFit then issued an apology on behalf of Glassman, calling his words “non-racist but a mistake”.
“Floyd is a hero of the black community, not just a victim,” he said in his public apology. “I should have been sensitive to this and I was not. I apologize for that. ”
But during Zoom’s call a few hours earlier, which had gathered between 16 affiliates and staff, Glassman had repeatedly expressed doubts about the existence of systemic racism and questioned the motives of the protests across the country.
“I very much doubt that they are crying Floyd,” said Glassman during the call about the protesters and the CrossFitters who were trying to get society to speak out. “I don’t think there is general mourning for Floyd in any community. ”
He also recounted unfounded conspiracy theories at the time of the appeal, including speculation that Floyd had been murdered to “silence him” because of an alleged baseless role in a criminal conspiracy involving counterfeit money.
Glassman speculated that the nightclub where Floyd and his alleged killer, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, worked “has been under FBI investigation for more than a decade for money laundering” .
“It’s very interesting that George blows himself up with fakes, and who is apart from the dance club security chief? Look: This thing will turn into first degree murder, “he said.” This is what will turn. And it will be because I predict this. We have friends at the FBI in your neighborhood, and they think it was first degree murder and that it was to silence him about counterfeit money. That’s the belief. That’s what the cops think. ”
Glassman and CrossFit representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story. BuzzFeed News posts some clips of the call, but not all of the audio, to protect the identity of the source who shared it.
“Take action?” Burning the city, is that the action? Destruction of black and minority businesses, is this the action? Glassman asked while speaking to a Minneapolis gymnasium owner who detailed what their members had done to help the community following nights of looting and protests.
“I would prefer the trial of a murderer rather than the city fire. I think the law has a better answer. I think burning your city to the ground and burning a police station to the ground because a cop killed what was most likely to be a co-conspirator in a counterfeit ring – I just don’t understand the thing that is burning. What about the black cop who got killed? Glassman said later in the call, adding that he was not going to “fund antifa” – another conspiracy theory – because “a guy was killed.”
Glassman told the owners of the call that “killing George was bad” before adding that “burning the city was bad, killing the black cop was bad, and killing black on black every weekend in each of our cities is a tragedy. ”
He told the owner of the Minneapolis gymnasium when he called that he thought the city’s plans to fund the police were “terrifying” after explaining how their community was trying to rebuild after Floyd died.
“It looks more like the same thing. It sounds like punishing the cops. It comes down to blaming the police for all the problems in the destroyed communities, and I don’t think anything could be further from the truth. Have you ever taken a stroll with cops in a difficult neighborhood? Glassman said. “You don’t have to answer, but I have many, many times, and it is an extremely difficult job and almost all men and women are professionals. ”
In a long discussion about the coronavirus, Glassman again shared more unfounded theories. “The Chinese let this virus out of the laboratory, and it did happen,” he said. (US intelligence officials have said they have not formally concluded that the virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.)
Glassman also trashed epidemiology as “social science,” said northern New Yorkers should separate from the rest of their state due to strict New York foreclosures, and urged gymnasium owners not to pretend to respect health precautions until they reopen.
“It was a panic. Absolute panic from the start. And I think it’s inevitable that it turns out to have cost far more lives than it was saved. Much more, ”he said. “At some point, you have to do the right thing, and that may not come with approval. It may not be considered the right thing to do, but you should always do it. It’s the burden. ”
“The Italians asked me, ‘What would you do, coach?’ And I said, ‘I would accept all the restrictions imposed by the health authorities and open my gymnasium, then 10 minutes later, I would do whatever I wanted. This is what I would do. “”
Mike Young – the owner of a fitness center in Morrisville, North Carolina, which contains a CrossFit subsidiary – was one of the people called. He had the franchise for over a decade and was delighted to speak with the CEO and owner of CrossFit. “I can meet this guy who was probably the biggest influence in this area,” Young told BuzzFeed News, “and then it turned into a shitshow, really, where the guy is right – conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory.
“My first thought was, I thought I might be punked, but I knew how it was and I thought it was completely crazy. I’m sitting there like, my jaw drops. Does this happen? What does this guy say?
“It was just surreal,” he said.
Young, whose audio did not work for most of the call, said he had to leave early to attend another meeting. He said he wrote later to the owner of the Minneapolis gymnasium to apologize for not being able to defend them during the call.
“It was more than embarrassing,” he said. “The way I would describe it, I was aware of the information in a private conversation that the world should know. This guy has a few thousand of these CrossFit affiliates, and he’s the figurehead, and he’s talking like crazy at a time when things like COVID-19 and George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, are basically already causing trouble. And the things he says are baseless conspiracy theories – inflammatory nonsense, really. ”
Young said he went to bed Saturday night with the conversation hanging over him. When he woke up on Sunday, he decided to take a stand and publicly announce that he would no longer be working with CrossFit. He prepared an article on Medium, but Glassman had already written his tweet “FLOYD-19”. But because Young did not record the call, he said, he tried not to go into the details of his message on Medium to avoid a possible trial.
“The tweet is bad. It is insensitive, “he said. “But as a person who listened to the call, you know that the tweet is nothing compared to the phone call. ”
Towards the end of the call, when a gym owner suggested considering giving up on his CrossFit affiliation, another member of CrossFit’s head office staff spoke up for Glassman. “You don’t even approach it with compassion. You approach this strictly with your agenda, ”said the staff member to the owner of the gymnasium. “Do you know how many blacks are going to be saved by CrossFit? ”
The days of CrossFit play began when Alyssa Royse, an affiliate of Seattle, posted an email she received from Glassman in response to a letter she wrote explaining why her gym would leave the brand.
“You are doing your best to describe us as racists and you know this is bullshit,” said Glassman. “It makes you a really crappy person. Do you understand that You let your politics distort you into something that I think is bad enough to be bad. I’m ashamed of you. ”
Glassman went further in the appeal with affiliates who did not include Royse, saying that his letter had “all the class, all the moral value of putting up a sign in the backyard of someone who says ‘known pedophile’ . ”
“It’s a fucking horrible thing to do to someone, to call him a racist when there is no evidence, when there is not a flicker of evidence to suggest something like that, and c is what she did to me. And what I sent back to him was a “Fuck off!” Glassman told members of the Zoom call. “You call me racist and I’m going to tell you,” Fuck you! You tell me to shoot twice or I’m a racist, and I’m going to say, “Fuck you! We can get to “fuck you” in a lot of ways. What makes me believe is not a race issue. “