Applebee’s made the right call to terminate three employees who allegedly racially profiled and falsely accused two black women of leaving the Independence Center restaurant without paying their bill.
But shame on the Independence police officer who appeared to mock one of the patrons for being upset.
Alexis Brison and her friend Asia Hardy were eating at Applebee’s in the mall Friday when they were approached by an Independence police officer, mall security guard and a restaurant manager.
The women were accused of running out on a tab from the night before. They vehemently denied the allegations and suggested Applebee’s was guilty of racial profiling.
Brison, who is from St. Louis, filmed part of the interaction, which surfaced online over the weekend and quickly went viral. The video, along with a description of the incident, was uploaded to Brison’s Facebook page.
The suggestion that Brison and Hardy had previously dined and dashed understandably elicits an emotional response from them, and one of the women cries and pleads with the officer to believe her.
“This is not right. We have not been here,” she tells him in the video.
The woman’s shrieking cries and the officer’s condescending reaction — he laughs at and ridicules her — are tough to watch.
“Does she normally act like this?” the officer says as the distraught woman professes her innocence.
Applebee’s deserves credit for admitting to racial profiling. The company temporarily closed the Independence Center location “in order for the team there to regroup, reflect, learn and grow from this.”
“We very much regret this occurred and sincerely apologize to our guests and community,” an Applebee’s spokesperson told The Star.
Bill Georgas, Applebee’s local franchisee, initially said there was no evidence that the incident was racially motivated. But after an internal investigation, Georgas terminated the manager, server and another employee.
“We do not tolerate racism, bigotry or harassment of any nature,” the Applebee’s spokesperson said. “We are reaching out to the guests involved to apologize directly.”
Applebee’s had the courage to stand up, admit its employees were wrong and take quick and decisive action. But what about the Independence Police Department?
The police officer was flippant, dismissive and insensitive.
Restaurant staff and the officer asked the women to pay their bill, leave and not come back. The women denied any wrongdoing but complied.
Lacking any proof of what had transpired, the officer chose to side with the Applebee’s employees who leveled the accusation against the diners.
As Brison says in the video, “This is what black people have to deal with.” Sadly, there’s a wealth of data and no end of examples that lend credence to her argument.
Independence police officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the officer’s actions.
The department should break its radio silence and follow Applebee’s lead: Offer a public apology to the women and require training for officers to ensure that this ugly episode is not repeated.