An Alabama businessman says he was harassed by a security guard at the Crowne Plaza hotel early Tuesday because of his name and skin tone.
“He started screaming, yelling,” said Ahmed Dharani, the co-owner of a telemedicine software company who moved to the United States about 16 years ago from India. “As soon as I mentioned my name was Ahmed, he basically racially profiled me.”
Cellphone video taken by Dharani shows the agitated guard standing near the front desk and shouting, “You are stupid. If you like, take your gun and shoot me. Because your name is Ahmed, take your gun and shoot me.”
The guard has been fired from the security company that employed him, according to the hotel’s general manager, Carissa Giliam. The hotel “would never act that way to a guest,” she said.
Dharani said he came to Kansas City for a three-day convention, arriving at the hotel at 1:45 a.m. after a 12-hour drive from Birmingham, Ala. He said his business partner had flown in Monday evening and checked both of them in, letting the hotel staff know that Dharani would arrive late. Dharani said that he had an email confirmation of his hotel registration and that his partner left a room key for him at the front desk.
But upon arrival, Dharani said, the receptionist told him the computer system was down and he would have to wait. He said he was tired and frustrated and took out his cellphone to record what he called the “incompetence.”
The guard became upset because Dharani was recording him and the receptionist, the video shows. The four-minute recording shows the guard cursing, waving his arms at times and pacing.
“I kept my calm,” said Dharani, 36. “I was sitting down. And it just kept going south. This was just not right. If they’re treating me (this way), speaking proper English, what happens to people that cannot speak proper English? What happens to people that do not look the part?”
The security company that provides staff for the Crowne Plaza’s overnight shift could not be reached for comment.
“I’ve had him fired with his company,” Giliam said. “Even though that is not our employee, we don’t need that kind of representation on our property.”
The guard is no longer welcome in the hotel, she added.
Dharani said he checked out of his room at 11 a.m. Tuesday and went to see the guest services manager. He said she was polite and told him she needed to talk to the hotel’s general manager and get back to him.
When he told his wife, a former Air Force staff sergeant, what had happened, he said, she told him to take a stand.
He went to the office of the American Civil Liberties Union and then the law office of attorney Rebecca Randles.
“I was outraged,” Randles said after seeing the video. “But I was also very sad that this could happen in my city.
“People have to know, you can’t do this. It’s wrong, it’s bad for business, and it’s bad for Kansas City.”
Dharani, a Chiefs fan who has a master’s degree in finance, said he had a great time on his previous visit to Kansas City but doesn’t know whether he will return.
He said he simply wanted an apology and an assurance from the city that everyone is welcome.
“I hope some attention is brought to this cause, and hopefully something comes out of it,” he said. “Kansas City is better than this.”