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Nordstrom Rack Wrongfully Accused 3 Black Teens of Theft

Three St. Louis teens who shopped at Nordstrom Rack are to receive an apology from the company president in person after they were accused of stealing from the outlet store.

Alabama A&M freshman Mekhi Lee and De Smet Jesuit High School seniors Dirone Taylor and Eric Rogers II were shopping for prom clothes at Brentwood Square Thursday, May 3 when they noticed several employees following them.

“I was nervous the whole time,” Lee tells CBS St. Louis. “Every time we move, they move. When we looked up, they looked up.”

“As a young Black man … you experience being watched but no one ever takes it to the next level as much as they did,” Taylor adds, saying the store called the cops on the group.

Upon leaving Nordstrom Rack, the boys were surrounded by police who said they had been accused of theft. But authorities let them go and filed no charges after an instant investigation.

“The police were actually good,” Rogers says. “They understood where we were coming from and they showed us that they were just doing their job.”

The teens also recalled a customer in the store calling them “punks” and asking, “Are your parents proud of you for what you do?”

“I knew it was coming, but at the same time, I felt somewhat embarrassed, agitated,” Taylor says. “I had mixed emotions with the whole situation because I knew that we didn’t deserve it.”

While trying to defend themselves, the teens said an altercation erupted between them and the customer, causing a manager to intervene.

To prove a point, however, the boys made a purchase, Rogers says, “to show them that we’re equal and we didn’t have to steal anything.”

The St. Louis NAACP said it is getting involved and wants to work with Nordstrom Rack to see how to handle the incident with its employees.

“The discussion has to have some sustenance, it needs to be strategic, and it needs to have some measurable outcomes,” St. Louis NAACP President Adolphus Pruitt tells the news station.

Nordstrom Rack President Geevy Thomas is in town to review policies and policies with all employees. A statement released by the brand said it was trying to address a verbal altercation in the store, adding, “We did not handle this situation well and we apologized to these young men and their families. We want all customers to feel welcome when they shop with us and we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”

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