A white man in Minnesota woke up feeling dumb after losing his office space for not minding his business.
On Wednesday (May 28), the owners of Top Figure, a Black-owned Minneapolis-based social media and branding agency, were exercising in the gym of their co-opted professional building. That’s when they were approached by Tom Austin, the managing partner of F2 Group, who threatened to call the police on the group because he didn’t feel “they belonged.”
The exchange, which was caught on video and posted by Top Figure to Instagram, shows Austin questioning the three men about their office location before pulling out his phone to call the police. in the caption, the men explain in further detail why the questioning was asinine pointing out that the office space requires key cards to enter any space in the building that can only be obtained by being a tenant in the building.
“Normally we don’t speak out about encounters of racial profiling and age discrimination that we face day to day in our lives as young black entrepreneurs,” Top Figure wrote. “Although today May 26th, 2020 7:51pm we encountered a situation where a man entered the facility, a shared private gym that we utilize in our @wework @mozaic_east office located in uptown Minnesota. Granted we’ve been in this office space and have rented and grown our business for the past 1 year and a half here. As we were working out this man approached and immediately asked us who we were and if “WE BELONG” in this building. Granted in order to enter the building you NEED a key card to enter EVERY part of the building which EACH of our team members individually has. We all pay rent here and this man demanded that we show him our key cards or he will call the cops on us. We are sick and tired of tolerating this type of behavior on a day to day basis and we feel that we had to bring light onto this situation.”
Austin ultimately called the building manager, who confirmed the men have a lease in the building. He told the Tribune that his actions led to his company losing its lease in the building.
“Should have handled it differently,” Austin said. “Not my job to have done anything.”
Advice that many other Karens and Kevins need to take heed to.
During an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Austin insisted that he was not being racist and was upholding a building policy that allows only tenants to use amenities when the group got “aggressive” after he claims he saw one of the men open the door to the gym with a key fob before allowing the other two men in. Austin then added that although the exchange started off rocky, by the end he was on “talking terms” with them.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry you thought I was being racist, but I was not. If you were a bunch of women, I would have done the same thing,'” Austin told the newspaper.
The viral incident comes just days after the video of a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd until he died of asphyxiation went viral. The death of Floyd, an African American man, has led to massive protests in the city and public outcries for an arrest and convictions of all officers involved.
Stuart Ackerberg, CEO of Ackerberg Group, which owns the MoZaic East building, said he was still heartbroken from seeing the video of Floyd when he decided to terminate the lease.
“My heart hurts,” Ackerberg told the Tribune. “This is not how we do business. … I’m alarmed by what I saw.”
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