DoubleTree Portland Hotel fires 2 workers for calling police on black hotel guest

DoubleTree Portland fires two workers who called police on a black hotel guest.

December 29, 2018, 11:23 PM

The DoubleTree Hotel in Portland, Oregon, fired two workers who were involved in calling police on a black man who was a guest in the hotel.

Jermaine Massey was talking to his mother on his cell phone in the hotel's lobby on Dec. 22 when he was approached by a security guard, Earl Meyers, according to the police report. Massey recorded the interaction on a video he posted to Instagram, which later went viral.

The hotel on Saturday said it was firing Meyers and another employee, saying their actions were "inconsistent with our standards."

PHOTO: A DoubleTree by Hilton sign is pictured in this undated photo.
A DoubleTree by Hilton sign is pictured in this undated photo.
Pavel Lisitsyn/Sputnik via AP

"In that moment when Earl approached me, I was blindsided," Massey told ABC News. "I was handling a personal family call and I was a little shocked that he approached me when I was on a call. I wasn't disturbing anyone, but I confirmed his question and then he continually harassed me about it. ... I feel like I was being interrogated. And I just didn't feel like I was being respected."

Massey said he felt like his race was the determining factor in what he said was a "humiliating" incident.

"The reason I feel like I was singled out is because of my race," Massey said. "And the other folks in the video, as you can see, were white. I'm black, African-American, and that's the only justification I have. I have no other way to explain why I was selected out of all the people in the hotel to be questioned that night."

The hotel did not specifically mention race in its announcement of the two employees' firings.

"We have terminated the employment of the two men involved in the mistreatment of Mr. Massey. Their actions were inconsistent with our standards & values. We reiterate our sincere apology for what he endured & will work with diversity experts to ensure this never happens again," the hotel tweeted Saturday.

Massey's encounter is the latest example of white citizens calling police on black people doing ordinary things like shopping or being in a dorm at their college.

These incidents, often documented by smartphone videos, have given examples of racial profiling a broad audience.

Massey's lawyer, Greg Kafoury, told ABC News that Massey had checked into the hotel, gone out to dinner across the street and gone to a Travis Scott concert that evening. His mother called him after 11 p.m. because of a family problem, Kafoury said.

Not wanting to take the call in the elevator, Massey talked to his mother in "a quiet corner of the lobby," the attorney said.

That's when Meyers confronted Massey, asked if he was a guest at the hotel, and eventually called police, according to Kafoury and the police report.

"He's calling the cops on me because I'm taking a phone call at the DoubleTree hotel," Massey said in the video. "I had a family emergency and I was taking a phone call and this guy's harassing me."

"Portland police will be here in a minute," the guard is heard saying. "To escort you off the property."

"And I'm staying here," Massey said.

"Not anymore," the guard responded.

The manager then called the police, Kafoury said. After police arrived, Massey was escorted to his hotel room, where he showed the police his identification.

Meyers told police that there was a lot of foot traffic in the hotel stemming from the concert and that he saw a man sitting in the lobby on the phone, according to the police report.

PHOTO: A DoubleTree by Hilton sign is pictured in this undated photo.
A DoubleTree by Hilton sign is pictured in this undated photo.
Pavel Lisitsyn/Sputnik via AP

"He said he approached the man and asked him if he was a guest of the hotel and if so what his room number was," according to the responding officer's account in the police report.

"Mr. Massey became loud and started yelling that the hotel was racist and that he was being victimized," according to the police report. "I explained to him that since the persons in charge of the property had said he would need to leave that he needed to leave."

Massey was escorted out by police, and chose to drive his own car to another hotel, Kafoury said.

Meyers did not immediately respond to calls by ABC News seeking comment.

Kafoury told ABC News that his client intends to sue the franchise owner of the DoubleTree Portland and the Hilton Hotel chain. He does not intend to file a lawsuit against the Portland police, the attorney added.

"We have no beef with the police," Kafoury said.

"Hilton is committed to providing a diverse and inclusive culture, quality accommodations and welcoming environments for all guests and Team Members visiting our more than 5,500 properties," a company statement said.

"Hilton has zero tolerance for racism. We have been working with the DoubleTree by Hilton Portland, an independently owned and operated property, as they have reviewed and responded to an on-property incident," the statement continued. "Hilton also holds our franchise partners to related standards. We have made diversity and unconscious bias training mandatory for General Managers and encouraged for other hotel managers across all Hilton-branded properties."

Massey hopes it's a learning experience: "Part of the reason why I'm speaking out about this is because I don't want this to happen to anyone else in the future. I think this is also an opportunity for other hotels and public establishments to review their approaches to situations like this and how they want to handle them. I think it's important for them to know that these situations hurt people, they make them feel excluded from the rest of society, and that's not how it should happen."

ABC News' Kandis Mascall contributed to this report.