Timothy E. Nelson was waiting for his car to be serviced when he decided to stop into a Santa Fe, N.M., Dunkin‘ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts) for a cup of coffee last week. After stepping out briefly and returning to use the store’s Wi-Fi, he was reportedly told by the franchise owner that he had to leave because, the worker said, Dunkin’ has one-hour rule for customers. But Nelson is calling it racial profiling, alleging that he was most likely asked to leave because he looked “suspicious.”
Nelson even documented the incident on video to show his students at the University of New Mexico — and later, his preteen daughter — in what he hopes will be a teaching moment for them.
“I didn’t know if it was because I was black, if it was racism or not,” Nelson said in a video on Facebook. “All I know is that Dunkin’ Donuts all of a sudden has a one-hour rule. I have never heard of a doughnut shop that has a rule that you can only be in it — even after you pay for something — for an hour.”
Nelson, who is black and has dreadlocks, was wearing an Army jacket that day and admits his appearance might have given the wrong impression about his intentions and led to racial profiling. “I don’t think I would’ve had the problem if I looked different,” he said in an interview with local news station KOB-TV.
But the owner, Irene Deubel, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that she didn’t kick Nelson out because of his race, but rather because she thought he had not bought anything. “I know what my policy is and it’s going to remain,” she said. “It’s not because he was black. It’s because he was sitting here without purchasing something. If I went to the store, I would never do that,” also saying that she never “physically threw him out of the store.”
In the video, Deubel can be heard saying, “You’re done,” while Nelson repeatedly asks her to clarify the one-hour rule.
A representative for the company released a statement about the confrontation:
“Dunkin’ and our franchisees share a goal of creating a welcoming and hospitable restaurant environment and treating everyone with dignity and respect. We are aware of the incident that took place at the Dunkin’ location at 1085 S. Saint Francis Drive in Santa Fe. The franchisee who owns and operates the restaurant informs us that this incident resulted from a misunderstanding, and that she apologizes to the guest for the poor experience.”
Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to the Dunkin’ representatives to confirm whether the so-called one-hour rule is a companywide policy or specific to this Santa Fe location.
The accusations come after several other racial-profiling incidents at Dunkin’ locations. Several days ago, the police were called after a Dunkin’ employee refused to serve a woman speaking to her family in Somali; the company later issued an apology. In June, a sign posted in the window and signed by the management of a Dunkin’ store in Baltimore urged people to call a hotline if they “hear any of our staff shouting in a language other than English.”
Controversial Dunkin' Donuts sign causes social media uproar https://t.co/XxYjS3C89G
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 19, 2018
The Santa Fe incident also follows a series of occurrences when white people have called the police on black people for seemingly innocuous reasons — like a dad yelling at his son at a soccer game or a man trying to enter his apartment building. One woman even humiliated a 9-year-old by accusing him of sexual assault at a bodega; it was later revealed that he had accidentally grazed the woman with his backpack.
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