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Applebee’s admits customers were racially profiled

The two women, at first, were not sure why a police officer had approached their table at the Applebee’s in Independence, Mo. They had decided to eat at the restaurant on Friday after a day of shopping at the Independence mall, and their order of chicken wings and mozzarella sticks had just arrived.

The officer informed the women that the Applebee’s staff believed they had eaten at the restaurant the day before and had left without paying for their meals. The accusation seemed absurd to the two women, who began to insist that this was their first time dining at that Applebee’s.

Moments later, after being “mocked, humiliated, and embarrassed,” they were kicked out of the restaurant 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.

[ After guests claim dress-code racism, a D.C. restaurant changes its ‘no sneakers’ policy ]

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 women 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 then broke down crying, and the officer laughed, asking whether she was “really this emotional.” He then informed the women that the restaurant wanted them to pay for their food, 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, and was viewed an estimated 3.3 million times.

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

“We do not tolerate racism, bigotry or harassment of any nature,” officials said.

Applebee’s officials added that they were temporarily closing the Independence restaurant — about 10 miles east of Kansas City, Mo. — so that the staff could “regroup, reflect, learn and grow from this.”

“We are reaching out to the guests involved to apologize directly. We know rebuilding trust with those affected by the incident will take time, and we look forward to finding resolution in the coming days,” officials said.

[ Which is better, Applebee’s or Cracker Barrel? Our critic ranks America’s most popular chains. ]

The Independence Police Department could not be immediately reached for comment.

In her Facebook post, Brison wrote that “black people cannot continue to be treated this way,” especially during Black History Month. In 2016, Victoria’s Secret made headlines after a black woman was accused of stealing from an Alabama store. The store then kicked out all its black customers.

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? Our weight and whether or not we wore makeup. She could not recognize any facial features or any defining characteristics,” Brison wrote.

She 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 and I will not be treated as such.”

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