Apple store slammed over racist incident

In the video clip, an Apple employee at Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne is heard telling the students to get out because they "might steal something".
In the video clip, an Apple employee at Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne is heard telling the students to get out because they "might steal something".PHOTO: FRANCIS OSE/FACEBOOK

Six students of African descent told to leave Melbourne store; manager apologises after video goes viral

SYDNEY • An Apple manager has apologised to six teenagers of African descent after staff kicked them out of an Australian store citing concerns they "might steal something", with a video of the incident going viral on Facebook.

The video, recorded by one of the students from Maribyrnong College in the southern city of Melbourne, has been viewed over 60,000 times after it was posted on Facebook on Tuesday with the caption "simply racism".

"These guys (security guards) are just a bit worried about your presence in our store," an Apple employee at the Highpoint Shopping Centre store is heard saying in the footage. "They are just worried you might steal something."

When one of the high school students asked why they would steal something, the employee said: "End of discussion, I need to ask you to leave our store."

Apple Australia confirmed yesterday that the store's manager had apologised to the students and their school principal Nick Scott when they returned to the shopping centre on Wednesday.

Mr Scott said it was not the first time his students, who were at the mall dressed in school uniform, were treated in such a manner.

"They were just six kids standing around a table looking at phones," Mr Scott told Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper. "But if you speak to these kids, they say they have experienced this before.

"At Highpoint two weeks ago they asked to try out some self-propelled scooter and the guy told them, 'No, you can't, legally I can't let you try it out.'

"They walked away and turned around and another kid was using it."

The US technology giant has a message from chief executive Tim Cook about diversity on his website, where he writes: "We want every person who joins our team, every customer visiting our stores or calling for support to feel welcome.

"We believe in equality for everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation."

This is not the first time that videos capturing alleged racial abuse in Australia have gone viral online.

In April, a Sydney train passenger was praised after defending a Muslim couple who were racially abused on a carriage.

In July 2014, a woman was put on a good behaviour bond after ranting at an Asian passenger on a Sydney train journey.

A French-speaking woman singing on a Melbourne bus was told by a man to "speak English or die" in 2012 in another viral video, and two Chinese students were burned, beaten and racially abused on a Sydney train the same year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2015, with the headline 'Apple store slammed over racist incident'. Print Edition | Subscribe