A group of black teenage students were told to leave an Apple store in Melbourne, Australia, because staff were worried that they “might steal something.”
The six boys from Maribyrnong College - Abdulahi, Gereng, Ésë, Mabior, Mohamed, and Petrieaged – managed to capture the incident, which took place at the Highpoint Shopping Centre, on video (below).
“These guys [security guards] are just a bit worried about your presence in our store. They’re just worried you might steal something,” the Apple staff member can be heard saying in the clip. After a member of the group asks why they might steal something, the store worker replies: "Guys, end of discussion. I need to ask you to leave our store.”
One of the teens, Ésë, said the incident started when an Apple employee asked the group to stop leaning on a table that was displaying some iPhones. The boys - who were born in Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Eritrea and Egypt and moved to Australia as children – allege that the store staff treat them in an intimidating way because of the color of their skin.
"It was just really offensive when he said 'we are afraid you are going to steal something.' It was shocking; it was racism," Ese told Mashable, "He didn’t even give us a chance." Another member of the group, Mohamed Semra wrote “Racial profiling has to stop, happens to often in America we don't need here in Australia too,”(sic) on his Facebook wall and wants a public apology from Apple.
The principle of the boys' school accompanied them back to the store the next day so they could request an apology from the manager, who said they are welcome back any time. The employee from the video said he apologized if his statement was taken out of context.
While it’s unclear if the staff member will be reprimanded for his actions, an Apple spokesperson said the incident is under investigation and gave this statement: "We want every person who joins our team, every customer visiting our stores or calling for support to feel welcome. We believe in equality for everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. That applies throughout our company, around the world with no exceptions."