Barely a week goes by without the title of “lord” or “lady” being bestowed upon someone who uses wealth, power or influence to put themselves above the law. When the title becomes part of a Twitter hashtag, the word gets out fast.
This week it’s #LordAudi.
A video recorded by cyclist Ari Santillán of Mexico City on Wednesday evening shows what happens after a young man driving an Audi invades the bicycle lane on a Mexico City street, right behind the cyclist.
Santillán began filming the incident with his phone after the car on his tail began repeatedly pushing up against his back tire, eventually bending the wheel and causing the cyclist to fall.
The cyclist called for help from a nearby officer with the Bank and Industrial Police, while a second cyclist stopped to help Santillán. But the Audi driver began berating the police officer.
“This is Mexico, dude, got it?” said the young man to justify his actions. “Call my dad, dude.”
The argument became a shoving match before Lord Audi managed to get back in his car and drive off, dragging the second cyclist’s rented bike under his vehicle.
Santillán, an editor at a Mexico City blog called The City Fix México, has since filed a legal complaint with the other cyclist before city authorities.
“We had to wait for about nine hours for a specialist from the public prosecutor’s office to show up, only to find out they didn’t have any available. I also had to file a complaint at the Attorney General’s office,” explained Santillán.
On Thursday, he uploaded the video of the aggression to his Facebook page, where it went viral on several social media services, earning the driver the derisive #LordAudi hashtag.
Later, social media users identified the aggressor as Rafael Márquez Gasperín, the son of a telecommunications businessman.
Hashtags containing the words “Lord” or “Lady” have become common in Mexico in recent years to accompany videos aimed at shaming the rich and powerful. With the proliferation of smartphones and live streaming mobile apps, there has been a particularly intense spate of these videos recently, involving the drivers of expensive cars.
Santillán is convinced that the strategy of exposing cases of abuse such as his via social media will lead to a change in civic culture.
“The idea of the video is not to shame a person or exhibit them, but to demonstrate that even the powerful can no longer assume they are above the law. It’s also a way of pressuring the authorities,” he said.