‘We’re worried you might steal something’: Apple ejects six black students, then apologises following claims of racism
A video showing a group of African students being asked to leave an Apple store at Highpoint shopping centre in Melbourne on Tuesday has caused widespread outrage on social media amid claims of blatant racism.
The video, which was posted on Facebook on Tuesday night, and has since been viewed more than 33,000 times, clearly shows an Apple staff member telling the Maribyrnong College boys that the store’s security staff were concerned they were going to shoplift.
“These guys are just a bit worried about your presence in our store,” an Apple staff member is heard telling the teenagers. “They’re just a bit worried you might steal something.”
The students appear shocked by the accusation and despite their protests are asked to leave.
“Guys, end of discussion, I need to ask you to leave our store,” the staff member says.
The six Year 10 students involved in the incident say they were shocked by their treatment.
“I’ve been coming to Highpoint for a long time and I never thought something like this would happen … of course I was offended,” Mabior Ater told Fairfax Media on Wednesday.
Mabior says it is not the first time he has experienced racism but “this is the first time it has been this big.”
He says he was overwhelmed by the flood of support he and his school friends have received on social media since the video went viral.
“A lot of people shared it (the video) and they were very angry that this was still happening in 2015,” he said.
Fardawsa Shanino wrote: “That’s what people do, racial profiling happens a lot, and white Australians want to ignore that. Smart of u guys for recording it.”
Others could not believe the way the boys were treated. “Im so shocked right now,” wrote Vanessa McIntosh.
On Wednesday afternoon, Maribyrnong College principal Nick Scott accompanied the six boys involved in the incident to the Apple store at Highpoint where they sought an apology.
At about 3.30pm a senior manager from the store met with the teenagers.
“She apologised to us and told us that we are welcome here anytime,” Mabior said. “It feels like we have justice now.”
A spokeswoman from Apple said it was looking into the situation but said Apple was committed to cultural diversity and inclusion.
The spokeswoman supplied a quote from Apple chief executive Tim Cook, which reads: “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.”
It is understood a private security guard hired by Apple first raised concerns about the teenagers being in the store. It was an Apple staff member who was shown in the video asking the teenagers to leave. A Highpoint security staff member was called to attend the incident, but did not get involved in the dispute.
Highpoint Centre Manager Ryan Ling said: “Melbourne’s West is a multicultural area and we want to stress that Highpoint welcomes all guests.”