A Nordstrom Rack in St. Louis is facing blowback after employees falsely accused three Black teens of shoplifting while they were shopping for prom, KMOV 4 reports.
Eric Rogers II, Mekhi Lee and Dirone Taylor were getting clothing for prom when they noticed Nordstrom Rack employees watching and following them around the store.
“I was nervous the whole time,” said Lee. “Every time we move, they move. When we looked up, they looked up.”
The three left the store but were then surrounded by police officers in the parking lot, where they were questioned about their time in the store. Officers informed the boys that employees called them.
Officers did an on-the-spot investigation and let the boys go.
“The police were actually good,” Rogers said. “They understood where we were coming from and they showed us that they were just doing their job.”
Nordstrom Rack President Geevy Thomas flew to St. Louis to apologize to the teens and their families.
In addition to being followed around the store, the teens said a customer called them “punks” and asked, “Are your parents proud of you for what you do?” A quarrel between the boys and a customer ensued before management stepped in.
“I knew it was coming, but at the same time I was feeling embarrassed, agitated, mixed emotions with the whole situation because I know we didn’t deserve it,” Taylor said.
The boys said they went and purchased items to prove a point that they weren’t stealing.
“We made the purchase to show them that we’re equal and we didn’t have to steal anything,” Rogers said.
Nordstrom Rack sent a statement to KMOV 4 stating:
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.
The St. Louis chapter of the NAACP said it plans to work with the CEO to see how he is going to address the situation with his employees.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.