Nordstrom Rack’s President Geevy Thomas is issuing an apology to three young men in Missouri who were accused of stealing according to Blavity. Thomas is flying out to Missouri to give an apology in person.
While out shopping for prom, Mekhi Lee, Dirone Taylor, and Eric Rogers II entered the store on May 3 when they noticed store employees were keeping a close eye on them and following them around.
“At that point, we moved to a farther part of the store,” explained Lee. “I felt nervous, and like I couldn’t be there.”
Lee then contacted his mother asking her for advice. She told him to talk to the manager of the store who wouldn’t speak with him or the others. Soon after an older woman in the store called one of the boys a “punk.” She went on to say, “Are your parents proud of you for what you do.”
The woman then proceeded to get into an argument with the boys prompting the manager to get involved.
“When she called us a ‘punk,’ and she didn’t have anything to do with the situation, everyone in the store is against us looking at us crazy, (and) we didn’t do anything,” explained Lee. “I was totally embarrassed, and we’re the only ones defending ourselves against everyone in the store.”
As the situation escalated the boys bought a few items to make a point and exited the store when they were met with police. When police approached them and told them of reports of three men shoplifting at the store. The boys showed them their receipts and the police let them go.
“The police let us (tell) our story,” explained Lee. “The police did their job. They also read us the police report where Nordstrom [Rack] said we had stolen several items.”
Now the boys have questions and want answers about why the cops were called on them.
“The experience these young men went through is not an isolated incident for African-American males in St. Louis or this country,” Adolphus Pruitt, St. Louis NAACP president, said. “Finding a way to prevent incidents like this from happening in the future has to be the mission of all of us … these things do not need to happen.”
After apologizing, Nordstrom Rock released a statement saying, “We did not handle this situation well and we apologized to these young men and their families. We want all customers to feel welcome when they shop with us and we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”
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(AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Irfan Khan)