A South Carolina father is accusing a Myrtle Beach store owner of racially profiling his son and his friends while they were shopping.
Chris Carraway, of Columbia, said he accompanied his son and his friends on a boys trip for their “senior week” instead of allowing them to travel alone.
“Myrtle Beach has a reputation, and I didn’t feel comfortable with my 18-year-olds going down there without supervision,” Carraway told The Root. “So I took the week off and went down there with them to just hang out.”
During the trip, Carraway and the boys went to Myrtle Beach Mall for some shopping. When the group entered the Fun Wear Sports store, Carraway said he began to feel like he was being watched.
“From the time we walked in, we could tell immediately the person that was in charge, he was staring at us,” Carraway told local news outlet WPDE.
According to Carraway, store owner Michael Means racially profiled him and the boys after they began laughing loudly at an inside joke.
“One of the guys, we were talking and I started laughing, and he looked at me and he said, ‘What are you all laughing at?’” Carraway told the outlet.
When Carraway told Means it was none of his business, the store owner allegedly told the group to stay in one place so he could “keep an eye” on all of them while he called mall security.
Carraway’s son Jonathan then pulled out his phone and recorded the conversation Means had with the mall security guards.
“To listen to him on the phone, if you listen to my clip, he literally says, ‘six of them.' Six of what? ‘Six to eight of them,’ that’s what he said,” Carraway told WPDE.
Security eventually arrived at the store and told the group, “Nobody touch anything unless you wanna buy."
The guard then told the group to leave the store.
Carraway said they stood outside and watched as white customers entered and exited the store with no issues.
“I’m one to call a spade a spade and I’m a very overprotective dad. I always tell them that they have to preserve their family’s name in public. But when they went in the store, they weren’t making noise. They weren’t acting belligerent. None of the boys—not that it matters—were walking around with their pants hanging halfway off their behinds ... I was wearing sweats because I was on vacation,” Carraway told the Root.
“I had to sit in my car for 30 to 45 minutes to calm down because I was so upset that my kids had to encounter such ignorance,” Carraway added.
On June 12, Carraway posted videos of the incident to Facebook, where it went viral.
In a phone call with WPDE, Michael Means said he thought the group was being too loud and scaring customers away. He also admitted he took issue with Carraway telling the kids to ignore him.
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