A New Jersey woman is calling for an employee of a gift shop to be fired after the employee told seven young black girls on a summer camp field trip that they were not welcome there and ordered them to leave.
Attiyya Barrett, who heads an organization that offers summer camps and tutoring programs for children, said she believed the incident at Jenkinson’s Aquarium Gift Shop on the Jersey shore was racially motivated.
Barrett posted a video of the incident on her Facebook page that was shared more than 65,000 times. In the video, as Barrett pans the camera from the girls' faces to that of the employee, the employee tells her, "They're not welcome in here."
Barrett told ABC News the girls were tormented by what happened, and that they were crying and distraught on the long bus ride home. The employee initially told the girls to come back with a chaperone, but even when they did, they were not allowed to stay, which is when Barrett stepped in and began recording the video, she said.
"Meanwhile, there were other white girls unattended and playing with items and they were not asked to leave," she added.
Jenkinson's Boardwalk said it has suspended the employee while it carries out an investigation.
"Discrimination of any kind is not tolerated at Jenkinson’s. We strive to provide all of our customers with an enjoyable experience and we clearly missed the mark this time. We sincerely apologize to the girls from the camp group for the way they felt upon leaving. We have been in contact with the group leader and will continue to work with her to make amends. The employee involved in the incident has been suspended while we conduct an investigation. Any necessary further action will be determined after said investigation." Toby Wolf, Director of Marketing, said in a statement.
Barrett said the employee's suspension was a good first step but more needed to be done. She's been in touch with the aquarium and is waiting to hear more about how they plan to "rectify" the situation, she said.
"I don't think she needs to work there, period," she said. "I think that she should be fired. And I think the other employees need some sensitivity training to know that that's not OK."
Barrett said incidents like these are not new to the lives of black people.
"Honestly, I think that they just have never stopped," she said.
"The difference now is social media. Now we're able to capture these things on video and it just seems like they're more prevalent. But in my opinion that is what people of color deal with every day."
The seven girls were part of a larger group of 40 girls between seven and 14 years old from Paterson, New Jersey, on the trip organized by Barrett's organization, Princess to Queenz, she said.