PORTLAND, Maine — A cellphone video of a local charter boat captain shouting a slur at a Portland bicyclist has cost him at least one sponsor after Facebook users started a campaign against him.
While Capt. Jim Harkins of Atlantic Adventures apologized for his “inappropriate” outburst Wednesday after allegedly forcing a cyclist out of the way, he said the video, posted Monday on Facebook, is “cleverly edited,” and his lawyers are pursuing legal action against bicyclist Jay Riley for “defamatory” actions.
Riley was riding his bike over the Martin’s Point Bridge between Falmouth and Portland on Monday when Harkins — whose show “Atlantic Adventures” airs in Portland on Time Warner Cable’s Channel 9 — honked his horn and then passed him too closely.
“He almost killed me,” Riley said. “I just remember hearing the wheels of the trailer almost on me, and I hopped over the storm drain and headed towards the guardrail thinking, ‘This is the moment I’m going over the guardrail.’ If I hadn’t had any cycling experience, I really feel as though I would have been seriously injured.”
Riley also shot video of a second encounter between the two men, during which Harkins — in a truck bearing the Atlantic Adventures logo — can be heard shouting, “Have a very nice day, you [expletive] moron,” and another video in which Harkins shouts a slur.
But Harkins said Wednesday that while he did honk his horn twice as he safely approached and then passed Riley on the bridge, he was not the aggressor during the second encounter in front of his business.
Harkins said Riley followed him to his office and “got off his bicycle and came at me, yelling and screaming at me. I went up to Mr. Riley to have a calm and rational conversation and he started waving his hands right in my face. I did lose my temper and say some inappropriate and unprofessional things, but at that point I’d had enough of Mr. Riley’s bullying and aggressive actions.”
Harkins also alleged that Riley’s video had been “very cleverly edited to edit out all of [Riley’s] inappropriate behavior and bullying.”
Riley, however, said that Harkins approached him aggressively during that second encounter, and that’s when he began shooting the video.
After Riley posted the video on his Facebook page, commenters took action, contacting sponsors of Harkins’ television show including Shipyard Brewing Co., DiMillo’s Restaurant and Cabela’s.
Steven DiMillo, general manager of DiMillo’s Restaurant in Portland, said Wednesday evening that he had just viewed the video, and decided to end the restaurant’s sponsorship of Atlantic Adventures.
“Captain Jim Harkins is a member in good standing here and he dines here with his wife. He’s never been anything but cordial,” DiMillo said. “But we can’t afford to be associated with controversy.”
Harkins said he couldn’t comment on any sponsors that are jumping ship, but added that his attorneys are “pursuing legal action” against Riley for damaging his business and reputation.
Riley, who bicycles back and forth some days to his job at Center Street Cycle in Brunswick, said he feels the incident has become a platform through which to teach drivers about sharing the road.
“I’m taking the high road,” he said. “This man is a stepping stone for a larger problem — motorists are using their vehicles as deadly weapons. … In the state of Maine there’s a three-feet law. It’s not a right, it’s a law.”
“At the end of the day, we’re glad everyone’s OK,” Brian Allenby, spokesman for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, said. “I think what’s really unfortunate is the verbal abuse and derogatory slurs. It doesn’t usually go that far. It’s just a matter of drivers learning to share the road with cyclists and cyclists learning to use the road responsibly.”