A Black couple took to social media to express shock and outrage after they were allegedly racially profiled while shopping at At Home, a home and holiday store.
The couple shared the story in a viral video posted by TikToker Fuljens Henry (@fuljenshenry) that has racked up over 260,000 views and thousands of likes.
“We’re sharing a horrible experience that we had at the At Home store in Destiny,” the woman began in the clip.
She said their shopping experience took a dark turn when an officer accused them of colluding with other shoppers to steal a Christmas tree.
“It was the worst experience,” the woman said before she broke down in tears.
That’s when her partner stepped in to finish telling the story. He said they went to Destiny Mall to purchase a tree at At Home. They decided on a pink tree with white tinsel and trimming and approached the register to pay for their purchase. That’s when two officers approached them, asking strange, intrusive questions.
“Who were you on the phone with?” Henry recalled the officer asking.
He explained to viewers that the question was especially strange because he had his phone in his pocket the entire time he was shopping.
“I’m thinking, ‘You know what, you must be confusing me with somebody else, so have a nice day,'” the man said.
Though he thought that would be the end of it, Henry said the officers became more aggressive about questioning who he was on the phone with.
“Come clean,” he said the police demanded. “So you’re gonna tell us that you weren’t with these two other girls you were on the phone with, and they stole the tree and walked out? And if we check the recording right now, we’re not gonna see you corroborating with those two other women?”
Immediately, the couple sought the help of the store’s manager, and that’s when they learned new, bombshell information.
“The manager accused us because we’re the only two other Black people in the store that could’ve possibly collaborated with the two women who stole the Christmas tree,” he said.
While he told the story, his wife remained distraught and continued to cry.
“This has never happened to us in our entire lives,” he said.
He also urged the manager and police officer to check the store’s surveillance cameras, but they refused. Fuljens believed they would not look at the cameras because they “felt stupid.”
Eventually, the store’s manager added more insult to injury.
“Do you wanna purchase this or not?” the manager reportedly asked the couple without offering an apology.
“We don’t want to spend, invest our hard-earned cash at your establishment,” Henry said.
@fuljenshenry One of the most surreal, sickening experiences of my life. ana and I were targeted at @AtHomeStores this morning by a store manager and police officer who blatantly accused us of corroborating with 2 black females who stole a Christmas tree from the store. #racialprofiling #racism #relatable #syracuse #syracusepolice #syracusepolicedepartment ♬ original sound – Fuljens Henry
In the comments section, commenters tagged the store and expressed outrage over how the couple was treated.
“I am so sorry this happened to you!” user Kdfwallace wrote. “I hope that @AtHomeStores issues a public apology to you immediately!”
“@AtHomeStores That manager needs to be fired, immediately as well as. These shoppers deserve a public apology,” another viewer agreed.
The video also inspired other shoppers to boycott the store.
“I’m sooo glad I came across this because I was going to @AtHomeStores this Friday,” user Tanesha Bowman commented. “Not anymore!!!”
In a follow-up video, the couple thanked viewers for their support and vowed to keep them updated. They also said they filed formal complaints about their experience with At Home and their county sheriff’s office. The company acted swiftly to get justice for them, opening an investigation into the incident. Though the investigation is ongoing, the store’s manager has been fired.
As for the officer, the pair said they want to ensure he is held accountable.
“We filed a formal complaint with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office of Internal Affairs to make sure that Officer Gerber is held completely accountable for his action because Officer Gerber does not deserve the role of officer,” Henry concluded.
The Daily Dot contacted the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department and was told that no officer named Gerber works for that agency. The couple and At Home were also contacted via email, and this story will be updated with any responses.
Update 2:40pm CT, Nov. 29: In an email to the Daily Dot, an At Home spokesperson shared the following statement:
“At Home has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind. We’re so sorry this happened. Our VP of Stores reached out and spoke to Ms. Gil and Mr. Henry the day this occurred. The employee involved is no longer employed by At Home and the security officer in question is no longer in service with us either. Our policies and procedures were not appropriately followed. We have reviewed our existing training resources and made changes accordingly. We’ve also made changes to ensure our third-party security guards understand our expectations for customer engagement. We appreciate Ms. Gil and Mr. Henry bringing this to our attention so we could quickly address this matter.”
Update 2:44pm CT, Dec. 5: The couple shared more details on their experience in an email to the Daily Dot.
“We learned that his name is Officer ‘Nerber’ and we surprisingly learned via At Home’s comment under our social media posts that he is ‘no longer employed by At Home’ as a result of the incident and our formal complaint filed with At Home,” they wrote.
The couple said they are currently unsure whether Officer Nerber was affiliated with a particular police department, security company, or other entity apart from At Home.
“We tried to gather further details from At Home but they stated that they don’t plan to share further information with us,” they noted.