An African-American security guard suspects he was the target of racial profiling after he was stopped by a Ross Park Mall security guard on his way into work last week.
Chris Sellers was walkings to his security job at the Louis Vuitton store around 7:30 p.m. last Thursday when he says he was stopped on the upper level of the Pittsburgh mall.
“I was approached by one of the mall securities, and he asked me if I was security,” Sellers told local station KDKA. “I said yes, and he said, ‘I can’t let you walk through the mall with the uniform on. You’re gonna have to take it off.’”
The guard informed Sellers it was against mall policy to wear a security uniform in the mall because shoppers might mistake him for mall security. Sellers said the officer suggested he put on his jacket to cover the uniform, but the jacket also had a security patch on it.
Sellers then asked to speak with a supervisor, who arrived a few minutes later. What happened next left the Baltimore native totally speechless.
“[The supervisor] asked me if I had a t-shirt on, and then I replied ‘Why?’” Sellers recalled. “He said, ‘So you can strip down to your t-shirt.’ And I said, ‘No, that’s just not going to happen.’”
“So much anger took over me at that point,” Sellers added. “And I didn’t want the Baltimore coming out of me, so I just … It was coming, so I left them.”
Sellers said he rang for his own supervisor, who told him to hurry and get to the store. Mall security followed him, however, and when he arrived at his job, there were additional guards and two Ross Township police officers waiting for him. He said the officers never said a word to him.
“I don’t want to believe that I was racially profiled,” he told KDKA. “I don’t want to believe that, but that’s what it’s kind-of looking like.”
Sellers said he felt the incident was racially motivated mainly because there was another non-mall security guard — a white female — who was walking around in uniform, and yet the mall guard “didn’t even look her way.”
“It was a mess … I just shouldn’t have been treated like that,” he said.
A Louis Vuitton supervisor managed to defuse the situation with security, and Sellers was able to work his shift. Meanwhile, the mall security guard who gave him a hard time has since been suspended.
Sellers is now demanding an apology.
Security firm Allied Universal addressed the incident in a statement Thursday, saying its employee acted in “complete error.”
“Allied Universal profusely apologizes for this unfortunate incident,” the statement read. “Our security guard acted in complete error and this employee has been suspended and removed from duty at this site. We are working with all parties involved to resolve this issue.”
Watch more in the video below.