Joel Stallworth and Tamiya Dickerson said their 18-month-old son loves basketball, so when they were strolling the Third Street Promenade and saw the Nike store on July 5, they decided to go inside and buy him a basketball.
When they tried to leave, Stallworth and Dickerson said they were humiliated in public because a store employee didn’t think they had paid for the ball. Stallworth said they were chased for about a block and a half by the store manager.
Video shows a dispute between the store employee and the parents, with police at the scene.
Stallworth said he was upset that they just assumed the basketball had been stolen.
“They didn’t come up to me asking me, ‘Sir, did you pay for the ball?’ They said, ‘You need to return this stolen ball’ and start making me show proof of a ball that I paid for. That’s my ball. That’s not your ball. I don’t have to show you nothing. It’s your job to know that before you come to me, disrespecting me in front of the public, embarrassing me. You got cameras wrapped all around me,” said Joel Stallworth, who was accused of the theft.
The couple eventually showed police their receipt to prove they had purchased the ball and were told they could leave. Instead, they went back inside to the store and returned the ball for a refund.
Stallworth an dhis wife hired an attorney. They feel this is a case of racial profiling.
“Is this a corporate culture of racial discrimination in the retail setting? Is it? Only Nike can answer that, and we want answers,” said attorney Stephen King.
KeJuan Wilkins, VP of North America Communications, released a statement on behalf of Nike:
“We are taking the recent situation at our Santa Monica store very seriously, and we are currently investigating the facts. We have reached out to the family to express our deepest apologies, and we will continue to work with our teams to ensure we deliver on our expectations for consumer experiences.”
The family said they also feel that the Santa Monica Police Department also needs to address the issue of racial profiling.
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