Nordstrom Rack Apologizes to Three Black Men Wrongly Accused Of Stealing

Nordstrom Rack has apologized to three black men after they were falsely accused of stealing from a Missouri store.

Mekhi Lee, Dirone Taylor and Eric Rogers II were shopping in the chain’s store at Brentwood Square in St. Louis, Missouri, for prom clothes on Thursday, May 3. Lee, who is now a freshman at Alabama A&M University, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that they noticed an employee following them around the store as they shopped.

“At that point, we moved to a farther part of the store,” Lee told the publication. “(I felt) nervous, and like I couldn’t be there.”

Lee called his mother while they were in the store and she encouraged him to ask to speak to the manager. The manager never came over to speak to them.

While the young men were in the store, they said an elderly woman called one of them “a punk,” Lee said.

936922796 Blake Nordstrom, co-president of Nordstrom Inc., says the Rack locations will be a a great outlet to move merchandise. The chain store wrongly accused three black men of theft and has apologized. Getty Images

“When she called us a punk, and she didn’t have anything to do with the situation, everyone in the store is against us looking at us crazy, (and) we didn’t do anything,” Lee told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I was totally embarrassed, and we’re the only ones defending ourselves against everyone in the store.”

The boys did end up purchasing something inside the store to prove a point, CBS 4 News reported.

"We made the purchase to show them that we're equal and we didn't have to steal anything," Rogers told CBS.

When the three left the store, they were approached by local police officers. The officers told the men they were called because the store accused them of theft but the men were able to show the officers their receipt. After an investigation, they were let go and no charges were pressed.

In an updated statement sent to Newsweek, the company said Geevy Thomas, president of Nordstrom Rack, met with the young men and their families.

"I feel fortunate to have met these young men and their families. I appreciate the opportunity to listen to their concerns and offer our sincere apologies on behalf of Nordstrom,” said Thomas. “I also want to thank the young men for their poise in dealing with local law enforcement and the police themselves for handling the situation professionally. 

The company is conducting an investigation into the incident and stated that the company wants to create "a welcoming and respectful environment" for customers and employees.

"We are committed to ensuring our processes and guidelines are well understood by our employees, and identifying opportunities to enhance the training and resources we offer them,” the statement read. 

The news of the incident comes after two black men reached a financial settlement with Starbucks and the city of Philadelphia after they were arrested at the chain cafe for not ordering anything while they waited for a friend. The city has offered to invest $200,000 to help set up a program to help young entrepreneurs in their future endeavors.

The story was updated to include an updated statement from Nordstrom Rack.

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