As people across the country held protests and organized boycotts against Starbucks, a New Jersey LA Fitness has served another reminder that black people are subject to racist encounters in establishments every day.
Tshyrad Oates shared a post on Facebook on Monday, detailing his recent experience at the LA Fitness location in Secaucus, New Jersey. Oates said that he went to the gym with a four-day guest pass with a friend who had been a member for eight years, and an employee told them they had to "leave or pay," Oates wrote.
"...I explained to her that I just signed in with her with the guest pass. She stated that it was my friend who did not pay (unaware that her manager had already signed him in with his membership pass)," he wrote. "My friend stated to her that he is an active and current member and that his gym tag was in his locker. He felt racially profiled and embarrassed by the harassment of this La Fitness employee in front of other members at the gym. We continued our workout and next thing we know [two] police men show up questioning us on why we were their with no memberships..."
In one of the videos Oates posted, his friend can be seen returning to the gym counter to sign in for the second time, while police officers wait nearby. In the video, the employee scans the friend's gym tag, and his membership pops up on the screen – just as the men had communicated.
In another video, Oates' friend films a man who they say is the gym's manager who can be heard telling them "you're not allowed to film here." Then the supposed manager is seen complaining to the cops, but the officers tell him that "filming is not criminal activity." The officers can be heard questioning the manager about the company's contract and its policy on kicking out people.
The last video shows Oates' friend claiming his gym contract had been terminated on the spot, and a police officer on camera admits he didn't "have the answers" for why it was happening.
"This La Fitness manager who refused to give us his reason to kicking us out, and refused to give us his name stated that I was banned from the gym and my friend’s gym membership has been terminated effective immediately," Oates wrote on Facebook. "This is ridiculous and the last video sealed the deal."
LA Fitness did not immediately respond to Blavity's request for comment.