Black women say Independence Applebee's racially profiled them

2018-02-12 | The Kansas City Star

Feb. 12--A St. Louis woman's Facebook post saying she was racially profiled at an Independence Applebee's has gone viral after restaurant staff accused her and a friend of leaving without paying their bill during a previous visit.

In the post, the woman wrote that she was shopping with a female friend at the Independence Center shopping mall when they stopped at Applebee's to eat.

There, restaurant staff accused them of running out on a bill the night before. The women denied that and said they felt they were accused because they are black. The restaurant's owners said they've found no indications of any racial bias.

A description of the incident, and a video showing part of it, were posted Saturday to the Facebook account of Alexis Brison. According to the Facebook profile, she attended Rockhurst University and lives in St. Louis.

The video has been viewed more than a million times and the post shared more than 33,000 times since it went online Saturday.

During their meal, the women were approached by an Independence police officer, a mall security guard and a restaurant manager. The police officer told the women that they had been accused of leaving without paying their bill during a visit to the restaurant the night before.

The women strongly denied the accusation. One of the women said she had not been to the restaurant before.

"This is what black people have to deal with," one of the women said in the video of the encounter.

Applebee's in a written statement to The Star Sunday said that it regrets any incidents like the one depicted in the video, but said it has found no indications that the store's action was racially motivated.

"Our team has been working throughout the weekend and will continue to work to determine what happened and what appropriate measures will be taken," said Bill Georgas, CEO of Apple Central, LLC., Applebee's local franchisee.

"We do not tolerate racism or bigotry of any nature," he said in the statement. "We currently have no indications this was race related. We have a diverse workforce that is reflective of the community we serve. All are welcome at our restaurant, and will continue to be welcome."

Restaurant staff, and the police officer, asked the women to pay their bill, leave and not come back. The women paid and left.

Brison wrote that she was offended at what she said was a racially biased false accusation -- even more so after learning that it may have been based on a minimal description.

"After leaving, calls were made to the restaurant and the manager stated that our accuser remembered that there was a SKINNY girl and a girl who wore MAKEUP," the woman 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."

Brison said Sunday that she did not want to comment further on the incident.

Joe Robertson: 816-234-4789, @robertsonkcstar

Ian Cummings: 816-234-4633, @Ian__Cummings