Cynthia Passanisi, who said that she found out she had been fired after watching the news, said that she did not call the man a monkey and that she was only trying to draw a smiley face on the wrapper.
“That was a smiley face, it was not a monkey,” Passanisi told WKBW. “That’s how I draw mine…I’m sorry I’m not an artist.”
Passanisi added that there were comments made about a ‘gorilla,’ but they were not made by her.
“When I was in front of the store and he was at the register, I was standing with Christian and he turned around and said he was a Gorilla. I didn’t say that, I said ‘that’s not nice and I’m not racist,” she said.
But John Washington, a civil rights activist with the organization PUSH Buffalo, maintains that she did, in fact, call him a monkey.
“Well I think she’s lying. She did call me a monkey,” said Washington. “There’s multiple people who have acknowledged that she did that multiple times.”
“I think it’s clear what she drew,” he added.
WGRZ reported that the store owner, Lisa Guercio, has since apologized to Washington, saying, “John, we would like to apologize to you in person. From my heart to yours, I’m sorry, it was not right.”