Officials from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative announced that Theresa Lund, an employee who confronted a Cambridge neighbor in a video that generated outrage after it went viral this week, “will be on-leave, effective immediately.”
In a statement announcing her leave, which was posted to the initiative’s Facebook page on Thursday night, Michael VanRooyen, the organization’s director, said he wanted to make clear that the group does not condone how Lund conducted herself in the video.
“The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative is an organization that promotes and defends humanitarian principles of service, equity, and justice. Our core values of integrity, collaboration, and respect for universal human rights are the foundation of all we do,” VanRooyen wrote. “It is within this context that I have been viewing the events of July 14th involving Theresa Lund.”
The initiative operates out of the Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Last Saturday, Cambridge resident Alyson Laliberte posted a video to Facebook that showed Lund sitting on the curb next to Laliberte and her young daughter.
Laliberte wrote in a Facebook post that Lund approached her and complained that her daughter was being too loud while the child was playing outside.
A confrontation ensued in which Lund eventually asked Laliberte, whose daughter is biracial, if she lived in the “affordable apartments,’’ Laliberte said. Laliberte called Lund’s comment “discriminating” and “racist.”
On Monday, as the video continued to ricochet across the Internet, Lund issued an apology, which she sent to the Globe, admitting what she said was “inappropriate.”
VanRooyen wrote Thursday that in addition to Lund’s going on leave, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative will also implement “additional trainings and programs for our staff to address implicit and explicit bias, pursue opportunities to promote diversity and inclusion within our workplace, and continue our efforts to serve those affected by war, crisis, and disaster.”
Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.