Video taken at Secaucus LA Fitness shows an apparent incident of racial profiling in which the police were called
A New Jersey gym has fired a manager and two employees after two black men were kicked out Monday in an apparent incident of racial profiling.
Video posted online by Tshyrad Oates – one of the men involved – quickly went viral, coming on the heels of another profiling incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks which also involved two black men and garnered national attention. Oates’s unnamed companion said in the video that he scanned into the gym, was asked to scan in again, and despite the fact that he had an active membership of over eight years, was asked to leave by a manager, who also called the police.
“We’ve been having problems with this staff for months now, several people not just me,” the companion said on the video of the Secaucus LA fitness location. Oates had also scanned into the gym on a valid four-day guest pass.
An unidentified man in the video who appeared to be the club manager told the one man who was a member that he was cancelling his membership, which the gym has now said was incorrect. “Clearly, this is a long time member with a current, valid membership. We want to clarify that no membership was cancelled and no one, including the member’s guest, was banned from the club,” the company said in a statement.
The police seemed baffled about why they had been called. “You have the officers here for what reason?” the companion asked. “We’re just here, man …” an officer said, trailing off. When the manager tries to insist the men leave for taping the incident on a cellphone an officer responds: “You guys don’t like cellphones, I get it, but it’s not criminal activity.”
Jill Greuling, executive vice-president of operations, said in an email that “the front desk staff employee was confused and thought the member was a guest”.
Greuling continued that the employee “was not working when this member checked in the first time, so she was unaware. Regrettably, from there our staff unnecessarily escalated the situation and called the police rather than work through it.”
A spokeswoman for Fitness International, parent company of LA Fitness, confirmed that the three employees directly involved in the incident are no longer with the company, and that the company is considering ways to improve its training.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010