Santa Monica, CA – An African-American couple claimed that they were racially profiled by a white Nike store manager who asked to see their receipt as they were leaving the business with their toddler (video below).
TaMiya Dickerson later posted cell phone footage of their July 5 confrontation with the manager to Facebook.
The video showed her boyfriend, Joel Stallworth, as he held a $12 basketball in one hand and a piece of paper in the other while standing out on the Third Street Promenade.
The manager repeatedly asked Stallworth to show her his receipt, but he refused to hand it over.
“What do you need the receipt for?” Dickerson retorted, just before Stallworth tossed the ball out into the street.
“Now you can refund his money, and I want an apology!” Dickerson told the manager. “This is f--king ridiculous, and its profiling!”
The incident began after the couple wandered into the Nike store with their 18-month-old son, Sammy, who spotted the $12 basketball and began carrying it around the business, NBC News reported.
They bought him the ball, and made their way out of the store.
But when they got outside, the manager intercepted them and asked to see their receipt.
Stallworth said he had just paid for the ball, and continued to walk down the street with his family.
He also suggested that she talk to her employees inside the store about the purchase, KTLA reported.
The manager, having still not been shown the receipt, followed the couple until she was able to flag down Santa Monica police for assistance, NBC News reported.
The couple ultimately handed the receipt over to police, and proceeded to yell at the manager and police as they were reviewing it, the video showed.
“Sir, relax,” one of the officers said calmly.
“I told her I paid for that!” Stallworth yelled. “And then my son went out running! I told you I paid for that!”
“You’re not even supposed to be following me!” he railed. "You shouldn't even ask! She's a dumb-ss."
After verifying the purchase, the ball was returned to Stallworth and Dickerson, who immediately took the item back to the Nike store and demanded a refund, NBC News reported.
Stallworth said that the store manager had no right to demand to see his receipt, because she had no evidence that he had stolen anything, KTLA reported.
"To accuse somebody of stealing, you need to have evidence, right? So she just accused me. She had zero evidence that I stole anything,” he said. “She couldn't have evidence because I bought it. She discriminated against me.”
Stallworth also blamed the manager for allegedly turning the police against him.
"She planted an evil seed in the officer, so as soon as the officer came up to me, he said, 'Sir, give me the stolen ball,’” he told KTLA.
Stallworth claimed that the officers assumed he was guilty, but that he wasn’t surprised.
“I can’t say I was surprised, because being a black man in America we really don’t hold too much weight with the police,” he told the Santa Monica Daily Press. “The manager harassing me put me in a place where it was hard to calm down, and getting riled up in front of the police can end in death for people who look like me.”
“Imagine being a 19 month old black baby boy,” Dickerson said in a Facebook post. “Your father purchased you your first basketball at 9:01 pm on a Friday night. A moment that creates a bond you will always be connected to. But in an instance someone steals your ball; because they accuse your father of shop lifting. Welcome to America Sammy. I hope you don’t have to get used to this – Dad.”
In another post, Dickerson said that the incident left her family feeling “intimidated and threatened physically and emotionally.”
The couple has now hired an attorney, KTLA reported.
"What we're hoping to do is to get Nike to have some sort of understanding and meeting of the minds to find out if this was an isolated act, or is this something that is more pervasive within the society of the employees that they hire," said their lawyer, Stephen King.
King said that the manager has been fired, but that Nike needs to do more, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported.
“Our only recourse is to go to court and see if Nike is willing to make a change” the attorney said. “If not, we’ll take it to a jury trial and have our peers decide if Nike did the right thing.”
Nike said it is investigating the incident, and said that the company has apologized to the couple.
“We are taking the recent situation at our Santa Monica store very seriously, and we are currently investigating the facts," Nike’s North American Communications Vice President KeJuan Wilkins told KTLA.
"We have reached out to the family to express our deepest apologies, and we will continue to work with our teams to ensure we deliver on our expectations for consumer experiences,” Wilkins added.
Nike has recently been in the news for promoting the idea that the Betsy Ross flag could be viewed as racist.
The company has contracted former NFL player Colin Kaepernick who threw a stink during 4th of July week and claimed that Nike’s Independence Day shoe was racist and offensive.
The sneaker featured an early version of the American flag – known as the Betsy Ross flag – on the heels.
The American Revolution-era flag design dates back to the 1770s, and has a circle of 13 stars and stripes representing the original 13 colonies.
Nike posted images of the sneakers online ahead of their scheduled release, and had already shipped the shoes to retailers, The Wall Street Journal reported.
When Kaepernick saw photos of the sneakers, he contacted the company to complain that it was offensive to use a symbol that stemmed back to an era of slavery in the United States.
The company abruptly asked merchants to return the shipments of $140 shoes, but provided no explanation as to why.
Joseph Murphy, a retired police officer who now runs patriotic apparel company Warrior 12, incorporates the flag in many of the company's shirt designs. (DISCLOSURE: Warrior 12 produces official Blue Lives Matter shirts and gear and the proceeds support Blue Lives Matter. )
Disgusted that an international brand continues to listen to Kaepernick about what Murphy calls "non-existent issues," he decided to release new shirts which incorporate both the Betsy Ross flag and support for law enforcement.
Murphy was outspoken immediately after he heard how Nike was disrespecting the Betsy Ross flag.
"There's nothing racist about this flag," Murphy explained to Blue Lives Matter. "The problem is that racial identitarians like Kaepernick tend to see everything through the lens of racism."
You can watch partial footage of the altercation between the couple and the Nike store manager in the video below: