Three Black teens were prom shopping in a Missouri Nordstrom Rack when they were accused of stealing by an employee.
Mekhi Lee (pictured above), Dirone Taylor and Eric Rogers II were casually shopping when they began to notice employees at the chain's Brentwood Square store were staring at them reported CBS St. Louis affiliate KMOV-TV.
"I was nervous the whole time," Lee told KMOV-TV. "Every time we move, they move. When we looked up, they looked up."
Eventually, the teens were confronted by a customer in the store who called them punks and allegedly asked, "Are your parents proud of you for what you do?"
When the teens began to defend themselves, an altercation occurred between them and the customer, prompting the store manager to intervene.
"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 told KMOV-TV.
Despite being treated like second-class citizens, the boys made a purchase to prove a point.
"We made the purchase to show them that we're equal and we didn't have to steal anything," said Rogers.
However, their purchase did little to change the minds of the store employees. Once they left the store, they were surrounded by Brentwood Police in the parking lot. Police told them the store had accused them of theft. After a brief investigation, police let the three go without charges.
"The police were actually good. They understood where we were coming from and they showed us that they were just doing their job," Rogers told the local news station.
Now, the president of Nordstrom Rack, Geevy Thomas, has flown to St. Louis himself to make an apology to the teens in person. Although the company issued an apology, many people believe more action needs to be taken.
The St. Louis NAACP says the organization is getting involved to work with Thomas on how he will handle the with employees.
"The discussion has to have some sustenance, it needs to be strategic, and it needs to have some measurable outcomes," Adolphus Pruitt, President of the St. Louis NAACP, told KMOV-TV.
Nordstrom Rack issued the following statement to KMOV:
"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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