SIMI VALLEY, CA (FOX 11) - They say "a picture says 1000 words!" Maybe it should be 2000 words. 1000 for each person featured in the picture. Maybe another 1000 or two to give it some perspective.
A photo taken by the Ventura County Star that's been making the social media rounds has become twisted as it churns its way through the internet. Activists have been spinning it in different directions. Some have even alerted companies doing business with Rosalyn La Liberte's contracting company that they should boycott her firm. In the photo she LOOKS like she's verbally attacking a 14-year old boy. Now, the two people in the photo are speaking out!
La Liberte tells FOX 11 News, "I'm not an evil person. I'm a mother of five... a Grandma of four."
But, in a tweeted-photo that's raced through social media like a wildfire that's exactly how it looks. Looks can be deceiving. La Liberte doesn't live in Simi Valley but went to this past week's city council meeting because she says she's passionate about the Federal Government's fight against California's sanctuary state status.
14-year old Joseph Luevanos was there to take the other side.
During a recess in the meeting the teenager says he started a conversation with the woman to try and understand her feelings, "but, I felt like she was still trying to keep it civil which I appreciate ."
Both he and his mom say there were rude people saying ugly things like the teen would be the first to be deported. For the record, he was born and raised in this part of Southern California and he didn't like that. But, he says, what you see in the photo isn't a confrontation but a conversation.
La Liberte says, I never said anything disparaging. I never did."
La Liberte and her husband tell us people have been calling their phone to harass her. She says the picture couple with the spread of social media has been incredibly damaging. First, she says, "I look like a monster. If I saw that i would be upset." She says one of her clients has already dumped her because of the photo.
The teen says, I heard some people were boycotting this woman's business. I don't really want that... because she was being civil."
When we first talked to her at her home she broke into tears because we told her what Luevanos told us about her "being civil". She says, "I wasn't really doing anything to him and everyone thought I was and that makes me really sad. It makes me really sad that I'm so vilified.
To that, Luevanos says "I don't really want this upon her. She doesn't deserve it because she was giving her opinion at a place where everyone should be able to say their peace."