Nordstrom Rack apologizes to 3 black students falsely accused of stealing

BRENTWOOD, Mo. — Nordstrom Rack has apologized to three black shoppers who say they were falsely accused of stealing from a suburban St. Louis store.

Police were called to a Brentwood store Thursday while 19-year-old college student Mekhi Lee and high school seniors Eric Rogers and Dirone Taylor were shopping for prom clothes.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the three left the store and police pulled into the parking lot. Officers told them that police had gotten a call about three black men shoplifting. Lee and the others showed police the items they had bought and a store receipt, and they were allowed to leave.

Nordstrom Rack apologized in a statement, saying it is enhancing its practices and training. The company said its president, Geevy Thomas, met with the three shoppers’ families Tuesday to listen to their concerns and express disappointment that the situation occurred.

“I just want to explain to him the situation,” said Taylor, who graduates from De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis on May 20. “I don’t want it to happen to anyone else. I want to see what repercussions will happen.”

Rogers, who graduates May 22 from East St. Louis Senior High School, told CNN that he and his friends are used to being watched in stores, but this time was different.

“I felt like I was unequal,” Rogers said. “By them calling the police, with everything going on, anything we could have done could have affected us, and could have drastically affected our lives. In a way, I was scared. But I couldn’t show it.”

Taylor and Rogers were shopping for shirts for prom.

The third student, Lee, a freshman at Alabama A&M, said he felt “overwhelmed, embarrassed and humiliated.”

Nordstrom Rack is a subsidiary of Nordstrom.

This is the latest racially charged incident to involve a major company in 2018. Last month, two black men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia for trespassing after they sat in a store without buying anything. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson later met with the men and apologized, according to the company. He also apologized publicly, calling the incident “reprehensible.”

Starbucks is planning to close 8,000 stores on May 29 for racial bias training.