Hotel in Portland sacks two employees who called police on black guest

Jermain Massey accused The DoubleTree Hotel in Portland of racially profiling him 

Maya Oppenheim
Sunday 30 December 2018 13:44
White security guard calls police on black hotel guest for using lobby

A hotel has sacked two employees after they asked a black guest on the phone in the lobby to leave and called the police on him.

Jermain Massey, whose video of the confrontation has been widely viewed on Instagram, accused The DoubleTree Hotel in Portland of racially profiling him after a security guard told him police were on their way to escort him off the property.

In a series of Instagram videos recorded by Mr Massey and seen by CNN, he is heard asking the guard, “But why? But I’m staying here.”

The security guard, who has been dubbed “Hotel Earl” on social media, replies: “Not anymore”.

Mr Massey then told a member of staff who worked on the hotel desk he was taking a personal phone call in the lobby when the guard began to question why he was there.

At one point in the footage, he shows the two men his keycard envelope with the room number and date written on it.

Hotel staff contacted the Portland Police Bureau and asked an officer to speak with the Washington state resident after employees asked him to leave the property, according to a police statement.

Police said the officer then escorted Mr Massey back to his room to gather his belongings and offered him assistance to a different hotel but he declined.

The hotel has now said their treatment of Mr Massey did not tally with the hotel chain’s standards and ethos.

“We have terminated the employment of the two men involved in the mistreatment of Mr Massey,” they said on Twitter. “Their actions were inconsistent with our standards and values. We reiterate our sincere apology for what he endured and will work with diversity experts to ensure this never happens again.”

Hotel management previously said the incident was due to a “misunderstanding” between Mr Massey and the employees – saying the business does not engage in discrimination.

“Safety and security of our guests and associates is our top priority at the DoubleTree by Hilton Portland,” the hotel said in a statement. “This unfortunate incident is likely the result of a misunderstanding between our hotel and guest.

“We are sorry that this matter ended the way it did. We are a place of public accommodation and do not discriminate against any individuals or groups.”

On Friday, it put the employees on leave during an investigation and said it would take “the appropriate measures to ensure this does not happen again.”

Footage of the encounter showed Mr Massey questioning why the guard was ringing the police on him. An explanation for his removal is not provided.

“They already had in their minds that they didn’t want me there so I waited for the cops to show up and when they did, I explained my side of the story and they didn’t want to hear it,” Mr Massey wrote on Instagram.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said it was “deeply troubling” to hear about Mr Massey’s “experience with discrimination”.

“No one should be treated this way, and I hope this serves as a catalyst for necessary changes that address the systemic nature of discrimination of all forms,” he tweeted.

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The saga was the latest high-profile incident in which black people have been removed from businesses. Police in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland helped the owner of a frozen yoghurt shop kick out a black man because employees said they felt uncomfortable last month.

In April, police arrested two black men at a Philadephia branch of coffee chain Starbucks after a manager called police to say they refused to make a purchase or leave.

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