Living while Black is dangerous from swimming in a pool to entering your own home to buying an overpriced cell phone at T-Mobile. This week, an unarmed Black man was nearly killed because he was suspected to be a burglar.
According to Fresno Bee, on June 25, Dorian Johnson, 26, and his uncle, Vincent Lemar, went to a T-Mobile store in California to purchase a new iPhone. Just showing up to the store caused the employees to call the cops, Fresno Bee, reports, “Police were responding to a 911 call from the shopping center’s security company about a potential robbery in progress at the store. But Johnson and Lemar said they had no intentions of robbing anyone, and had no weapons. Johnson was on his way to work at the Foster Farms processing plant, and had his ID badge around his neck — something he says a criminal trying to get away with robbery wouldn’t do. Lemar was looking to get a credit check at the store to get a quote on how much money he would have to put down for a phone, and had given an employee his ID, he said.”
According to Lemar on Facebook, he and Johnson had reportedly been talking to a T-Mobile rep about purchasing a phone, but decided against it because the price was too high. As they were both leaving, Johnson exited the store before Lemar and four cops showed up, he was held at gunpoint and told to crawl on his stomach, which is captured on video by Lemar, who stayed in the store when he saw the cops. You can also see his girlfriend on video begging to know what is happening.
Although on video, the T-Mobile reps, one who is a person of color, appears to say they didn’t call the cops, Vincent Lemar wrote on Facebook:
“T-Mobile Reps Felt Threatened By Two Black Men…One Of Which Drives A Mercedes And The Other Literally Had 1 Thousand Dollars In His Pocket And Wanted An IPhone X Financed…We Were Not There To Rob Anyone….I Would Like To Praise The Well Trained Officers That Responded As They Were Only Doing Their Job And No One Was Hurt…This Was Racial Profiling At Its Finest…Prejudice In Its Precipice…And T-Mobile Should Do Something About This Highly Uncalled For But Totally Avoidable Misunderstanding…It Turns Out T-Mobile Called Security…And Security (Unarmed And Under The Impression That The Store Really Was Being Robbed) In Turn Called The FPD…But The Crazy Part Was That FPD Would Have Came Normally…Not With Guns Drawn And Adrenaline Pumping…Thats Because Either Security And/Or T-Mobile Officials Literally Said They Were Being Robbed…Which Was A Big Misunderstanding.”
T-Mobile said the following in a statement, “The safety and comfort of our customers, our TPR dealers and their employees is paramount to us. We are taking this incident very seriously and are actively investigating to determine exactly what occurred. Though we have found no evidence that the employees acted improperly, we would take definitive action if we did.”
Why do these companies so quickly defend their employees in their statements? Why not take some time before denying any responsibility? A little investigation could go along way.
Johnson, the 26-year-old who was held at gunpoint, told the Fresno Bee, “I don’t see what made them call and what would have given them the suspicion that they were going to get robbed. We weren’t up to anything. It’s just crazy. I don’t understand. Nobody not once came and apologized for what happened.” He continued through tears, “I was just watching videos about that stuff the other day. To be in the same situation myself, it just scared the (expletive) out of me. Every time I think about it I get teary-eyed. It was the day before my 3-year-old daughter’s birthday.”
Johnson did say one of the employees was a person of color, but his uncle wrote on Facebook, “This was racial profiling at its finest. Prejudice in its precipice,. And T-Mobile should do something about this highly uncalled for but totally avoidable misunderstanding.”
Johnson’s girlfriend and the mother of his child said, “All the time, (Johnson) says, ‘babe, look at this video. Look at how they did that Black man.’ When I saw all these white cops having guns to his face, that’s the first thing that came to mind. I thank God he’s not dead but we never thought it would happen to us.”
T-Mobile needs to provide a better explanation for why the cops were called instead of saying the employees didn’t act “improperly.” If that is the case, then who did act improperly? It certainly wasn’t Dorian Johnson. This easily could have ended in Dorian Johnson being a hashtag.