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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 1:00 am

Applebee's apologizes for treatment of 2 black women

Marwa Eltagouri | Washington Post

The two women, at first, weren't sure why a police officer had approached their table at Applebee's in Independence, Missouri. They had decided to eat at the restaurant on Friday after a day of shopping at the Independence Mall, and their orders had just arrived.

The officer informed the women that the Applebee's staff believed they had eaten at the restaurant the day before, but had left without paying. The accusation seemed absurd to the two women, who insisted it was their first time dining at that Applebee's location.

Moments later, after being “mocked, humiliated, and embarrassed,” they were kicked out because they were the same race as the people who allegedly committed the crime, said Alexis Brison, one of the accused women, who posted a video of the incident on Facebook.

When the Independence police officer first approached Brison and her friend's table, they repeatedly explained to him that they had not previously visited the restaurant. The officer asked them, “Why are you yelling?” and “Put yourself in my shoes.”

“Can we just pay for our food and leave, because we haven't done anything?” one of the women asked.

When one of the woman appears to call someone for advice on what to do next, the officer asked the women why they were “getting worked up for nothing.”

“This is too much of an accusation to call it nothing,” one of the women responded.

The woman broke down crying, and the officer laughed, asking if she was “really this emotional.” He then informed them that the restaurant wanted them to pay, leave and never return.

“We deal with this all the time. Black people in America gotta deal with this all the time,” one of the women later tells him and the restaurant staff, according to the video. “This is what black people have to deal with.”

By Tuesday, the video of the incident went viral.

Applebee's officials in a statement apologized for the restaurant's actions and said they had fired the manager, server and another employee involved.

Applebee's officials added they were temporarily closing the Independence restaurant so the staff could “regroup, reflect, learn and grow from this.”

The Independence Police Department could not be reached for comment.

On Facebook, Brison wrote “black people cannot continue to be treated this way,” especially during Black History Month.

Brison wrote that she later found out that the server who accused her and her friend of the crime remembered the suspects were two girls – one who was skinny and one who wore makeup.

“In 2018, is this really what we're debased to? ...She could not recognize any facial features or any defining characteristics,” Brison wrote. “This is a clear example of RACIAL PROFILING that should not be stood for. Just because we are black does not mean we are all criminals.”