A Black hotel guest says he was targeted because of his race after a security guard called the police on him, then had him booted from the hotel altogether, leaving him to find new accommodations in the middle of the night.
Jermaine Massey‘s first trip to Portland, Ore., was off to a great start after seeing rapper Travis Scott in concert Sunday night. Things quickly went left, however, when Massey, 34, returned to the DoubleTree Hotel where he was staying and took a call from his mom in the lobby.
Seeing she had called so late (Massey’s mother lives on the East Coast), the guest said he took a seat in the lobby to make sure his mother was alright before heading back up to his room, OregonLive reported. Massey described what unfolded next in a series of videos and posts on Instagram.
“Tonight, I was racially profiled and discriminated against for taking a phone call in the lobby of my hotel room,” he wrote. “The security guard “Earl” decided he would call the police on me, the exact reason is still unclear to me.”
In one of the now viral videos, Massey says he was speaking on the phone with his mother when a white security guard, whose name tag read “Earl”, approached him and asked if he was a guest at the hotel. He responded that he was, but that was of little consolation to the guard who then asked to know his room number.
A now-irritated Massey explained he was on the phone at the moment and could not recall his room number off the top of his head. The guard, who has been identified by news outlets as 71-year-old Earl Meyers, then had a manager dial police and accused Massey of loitering, even though he was holding a room key.
According to one of Massey’s Instagram posts, the guard indicated he was a “disturbance” and “a safety threat” to other guests at the hotel. Frustrated, Massey argued there were white guests milling about the lobby and suggested several times that the guard had singled him out because he was Black.
“He’s calling the cops on me because I’m taking a phone call at the DoubleTree Hotel,” he Massey says in the video. “I have not moved, I have been sitting here the whole time and they’re calling the police on me because I’m taking a phone call in the lobby. Did you ask any of those people walking by what room they were staying in? No.”
By this time, the manager had called the cops and only asked what had happened once authorities were on their way.
Massey said once officers arrived, they asked him to remove his personal belongings from the room he was staying in and waited for him to check out at the front desk. PPD Officer Richard Harvey, who responded to the incident, wrote in a police report that officers went with Massey to his room to retrieve his things.
“I asked him to go to his room with us and get his property before he became so mad that something may happen that no one would want,” Harvey wrote. “While he was getting his belongings he took the Bible from the hotel room and slid it across the carpet toward [Earl] Meyers and told him he needed to read it and learn how to be a human.”
Authorities then escorted “a very angry and loud” Massey from the building at the request of hotel staff, during which he accused the security guard of “being a racist many times,” according to the police report.
OregonLive reported that an officer told Massey outside the hotel that he had no way of knowing whether the incident was fueled by racism, but suggested he follow up with his complaints with hotel management so he wouldn’t be arrested for trespassing.
The booted guest turned down the officer’s ride to another hotel and instead took a Lyft to a Sheraton near the airport, an Instagram video showed.
“He thanked me for being calm and patient with him,” Harvey wrote in his report. “He then walked away from the hotel towards the MAX platform and yelled ‘racist’ at security as he left.”
Clips of the incident sparked a flurry of reactions from online critics who couldn’t help but draw parallels between Massey’s experience and similar incidents where Black people have had the cops called on them for simply existing.
“It just goes to show you that racism is still alive and well, man,” Massey said after booking a room at the Sheraton. “This was a real incident where I could’ve gone to jail if I responded in a different way.”
Paul Peralta, the general manager of the Portland DoubleTree where the incident occurred, said he’d reached out to Massey.
“Safety and security of our guests and associates is our top priority at the Doubletree by Hilton Portland,” Peralta said in a statement. “This unfortunate incident is likely the result of a misunderstanding between our hotel and guest. We are sorry that this matter ended the way it did. We are place of public accommodation and do not discriminate against any individuals or groups. We have reached out to the guest in order to resolve this matter.”
Still, Massey insists he was racially profiled.
“I plan to try to seek justice and make sure it doesn’t happen to anybody else,” he said in one of his many videos.
Watch more in the videos below.