A black man was on the phone with his mom in a hotel lobby—and then the police were called
A guest at a Portland, Oregon hotel is alleging he was harassed by staff when he was asked to leave the property after taking a phone call in the hotel lobby late Saturday night.
Washington state resident Jermaine Massey was in the lobby of the Portland DoubleTree when a security guard informed him that police were on their way to escort him off the property.
The hotel has apologized to Massey and placed two employees on leave because of the incident.
In a series of Instagram videos of the incident recorded by Massey and obtained by CNN, he is heard asking the guard, “But why? But I’m staying here.” “Not anymore,” the security guard replies.
Massey then told a hotel desk staffer that he was taking a personal phone call in the lobby when the guard began to question why he was there. At one point in the videos, he shows the two men his keycard envelope with the room number and date written on it.
Hotel staff contacted the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and asked an officer to speak with Massey after the employees asked him to leave the property, according to a PPB statement.
The officer then escorted Massey back to his room to collect his belongings, and offered him assistance to a different hotel, but he declined, police said.
Massey’s attorneys told CNN that hotel staff demanded he be arrested for trespassing if he did not leave the property at that time.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on Friday condemned the incident.
“It is deeply troubling to hear about Mr. Massey’s experience with discrimination,” he tweeted. “No one should be treated this way, and I hope this serves as a catalyst for necessary changes that address the systemic nature of discrimination of all forms.”
DoubleTree General Manager Paul Peralta issued a statement about the incident Wednesday, calling it “unfortunate,” and said the hotel has reached out to Massey about the matter.
“We are sorry that this matter ended the way it did and have reached out to the gentleman in order to resolve this matter,” Peralta said. “We are a place of public accommodation and place a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion and our hotel does not discriminate against any individual or group. We look forward to speaking with him.”
On Twitter, the hotel said the two employees involved in the incident were placed on leave during its investigation and, “We will take the appropriate measures to ensure this does not happen again.” The hotel has “a zero-tolerance stance on discrimination,” the tweet said.
“We sincerely apologize to Mr. Massey for his treatment this past weekend, and deeply regret the experience he endured. It was unacceptable and contrary to our values, beliefs and how we seek to treat all people who visit our hotel.”
The Portland DoubleTree said it will ask a third party to investigate the incident and review its “internal processes, protocols and trainings to ensure we are creating and maintaining a safe space for everyone.”
Massey accused the guard of “harassing” him, and in a statement provided to CNN by his attorneys, characterized the incident as “calling his mother while black.”
Through his attorneys, Massey has asked the Portland DoubleTree to explain why they considered him a threat to hotel security, and why he was even questioned by security in the first place.
In addition to reaching out to the hotel, CNN has also sought comment from the two hotel employees shown in Massey’s Instagram video.
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