Last week at a St. Louis Nordstrom Rack, three African American teens were racially profiled and wrongfully accused of stealing in a St. Louis store.
Dirone Taylor, Mekhi Lee, and Eric Rogers were shopping at Nordstrom Rack for prom clothing when they noticed employees watching their every move. Lee told ABC News, “I was nervous. I was most definitely embarrassed.”
The teens left the store, but later returned when they realized Lee had left his hat behind. Upon returning, a customer approached Rogers accusing him of stealing leading him to believe the staff was talking about them during the brief period they left the store.
Lee told ABC News, “We asked to speak to a manager, but they told us ‘the manager can’t talk to you, but the police will.”
The teens proceeded to buy underwear and undershirts to prove they were innocent. Once the teens finished purchasing their items, they walked outside to see three police cars. The police officers told the teens they had received complaints that they were shoplifting. Brentwood’s chief of police Joseph Spiess told The Washington Post that the department was told “three black men…were shoplifting handfuls of products.”
Lee told ABC News that the police let them explain their story, and it was a total misunderstanding.
The president of Nordstrom Rack, Geevy Thomas, met with the teens and their parents on Tuesday Afternoon to apologize. Thomas apologized in a statement, “I feel fortunate to have met these young men and their families. I appreciate the opportunity to listen to their concerns and offer our sincere apologies on behalf of Nordstrom. I also want to thank the young men for their poise in dealing with local law enforcement and the police themselves for handling the situation professionally.”
One of the teens, Dirone Taylor, shared with ABC that she needs “more than just an apology.” Lee reported, “We just want this to stop. We want change…We feel like we should be able to shop anywhere. We are three clean-nosed kids, our records are clean. We just want to kill the stereotype.”
Nordstrom Rack is conducting an investigation into the incident and the actions taken by employees.
This incident occurred only a month after the Philadelphia Starbucks incident in which two men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, were arrested for sitting in a Starbucks without ordering. Starbucks officials apologized to the men and charges were dropped. All U.S. Starbucks will be closed on May 29 for mandatory racial bias training.
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