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Starbucks barista gets $90,000 after refusing service to woman who wouldn’t wear mask

Brooke Wolford

Amber Lynn Gilles was outraged when the barista at a San Diego Starbucks told her she needed to wear a mask because of the company’s policy during the coronavirus pandemic, so she took a picture of him and posted it on her Facebook page, CBS reported.

“Meet lenen from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption,” the post said.

But it didn’t have the effect she intended, after supporters of the barista, whose name is Lenin Gutierrez, started a GoFundMe page and raised over $94,000 for the Starbucks employee, CNN reported.

Gutierrez posted a video explaining his side of the story on June 24, the New York Times reported. He asked Gilles if she had a mask, to which she responded, “no I don’t need one,” Gutierrez said.

He says that Gilles then started “cursing up a storm” and called people sheep as she walked out of the building, but that wasn’t the end of it, according to Gutierrez. She returned minutes later, and that’s when Gilles took his photo and asked for his name so she could call the Starbucks corporate office, Gutierrez said.

“I didn’t think it was going to come to this,” Gutierrez said.

After Gilles’ post went viral, Matt Cowan created the GoFundMe page called “Tips for Lenin Standing Up To A San Diego Karen,” with the initial goal of $1,000 on June 22. Less than a week later, people had donated nearly $80,000, CNN reported.

“Everybody is rallying around somebody for doing what they’re supposed to do and trying to protect everyone else. It just goes to show you there are a lot of good people out there and that outweighs the bad,” Cowan told KGTV.

San Diego County started requiring residents to wear face coverings in public on June 19, according to the county’s website. The county has a total of 13,334 confirmed cases and 361 deaths as of June 29, the county’s website says.

Gilles says she should get at least half the money raised through the GoFundMe page “because they’re using me to get it,” according to NYT.

Cowan made clear on the page that all of the money is going to Gutierrez, who taught dance to kids before the pandemic, NYT reported. Now Gutierrez says he wants to use the money donated to him to become a professional dancer, the GoFundMe page says.

“That’s all I really want to do — to just be able to show dance to others and show them how much I love it and how much it affected me,” Gutierrez told NYT. “And if I can show that to someone else, that would be amazing and change their life like it changed mine.”