Small Business Owner Faces Threats and Racist Backlash Following Viral TikTok Video

By Joshua Hammerling Media Release for #rmdsdf

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In the bustling town of Castle Rock, Colorado, John Hallett, the owner of Rocky Mountain Self-Defense and Fitness, has found himself in the midst of a social media storm. A viral TikTok video featuring one of his part-time coaches making racist remarks has brought a torrent of negative attention, placing his small business under significant strain. Despite swift action to address the issue, the repercussions have been severe and enduring.

The Incident

The trouble began on May 19, 2024, when a video posted on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, quickly gained traction on TikTok. The footage showed one of Rocky Mountain Self-Defense and Fitness’s part-time coaches making overtly racist comments. The content was both shocking and offensive, leading to immediate outrage online. John Hallett, alongside his wife and business partner Jenny Jeager, acted swiftly. They fired the coach the same day the video surfaced.

“We were horrified by the video,” said Hallett. “There is no place for such behavior in our gym or anywhere else. We took immediate action to terminate the individual’s employment and distance ourselves from those views.”

The Fallout

Despite their quick response, the fallout was immediate and overwhelming. Hallett’s phone started ringing incessantly. At first, it was concerned members of the community and clients of the gym seeking reassurance. But soon, the calls took a darker turn.

“We started receiving threatening calls almost immediately,” Hallett recounted. “Every day, at least one call would be a threat against me, my family, or our business.”

The volume of calls has not decreased over time. On average, Hallett receives five to ten calls per day, many of them filled with vitriol. Some are from individuals demanding to know if the coach is still working @RMSDF, while others are racist comments directed back at the gym owner and his family. The strain on the business has been immense.

A Community in Turmoil

Rocky Mountain Self-Defense and Fitness has long been a staple in the Castle Rock community, offering a range of fitness and self-defense classes. The gym prides itself on being an inclusive environment, welcoming people from all walks of life. This reputation has been put to the test in recent weeks.

“We’ve always strived to create a safe and welcoming space for everyone,” Jenny Jaeger. explained. “This incident has been incredibly challenging, but we’re committed to maintaining our values and supporting our community.”

The couple has been working tirelessly to mitigate the damage. Hallett has made personal calls to as many individuals as possible, explaining the actions taken and reaffirming their commitment to inclusivity. Despite their efforts, the backlash continues.

Dealing with the Threats

The constant barrage of threats and hate speech has taken a toll on Hallett and his family. They have had to increase security measures at the gym and even at their home. The local police have been notified, and an investigation is ongoing to track down the sources of the more serious threats.

“It’s scary,” Hallett admitted. “You never expect to be in a situation where your safety is at risk because of something someone else did. We’re just trying to keep our heads above water and protect our family and our business.”

Community Support and Moving Forward

While the negative attention has been overwhelming, there has also been an outpouring of support from loyal clients and community members. Many have reached out to express their solidarity and appreciation for the swift action taken by Hallett and Jaeger.

“We’ve had so many people come forward to offer their support,” said Jaeger. “It’s been a reminder of why we started this business in the first place – to create a positive impact on our community.”

In the face of adversity, Hallett and Jaeger are determined to move forward. They are planning community outreach programs and workshops focused on diversity and inclusion, hoping to turn this negative experience into a learning opportunity for all.

“We want to use this as a chance to educate and bring people together,” Hallett explained. “It’s important to address these issues head-on and work towards a more inclusive future.”


The situation at Rocky Mountain Self-Defense and Fitness is a stark reminder of the power and perils of social media in the modern age. For small business owners like John Hallett and Jenny Jaeger, the rapid spread of information can lead to unintended and sometimes dangerous consequences. Yet, their response highlights the importance of swift, decisive action and the enduring strength of community support.

As they navigate these challenging times, Hallett and Jaeger remain committed to their mission and their community. Their story is one of resilience, demonstrating that even in the face of severe adversity, the principles of inclusion and respect can prevail.

In a world where a single viral video can upend lives and businesses, the experience of Rocky Mountain Self-Defense and Fitness serves as a powerful lesson in crisis management and the enduring impact of standing by one’s values.

#bigotsonblast #calltoaction #foldrising #powersofthefold #rockymountianselfdefenseandfitness #rmsdf

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