ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, along with cooperating attorney Richard Rosenstock, filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Bureau on behalf of Jordan McDowell, an African American university student from New Orleans, who was discriminated against by an employee of an Allsup’s convenience store in Santa Fe. In the complaint, McDowell alleges that the employee called the police asking them to remove him from the premises because of his race.
“People have a right to enter stores and other public accommodations without fear that they will be discriminated against or endangered because of the color of their skin ,” said Leon Howard, ACLU of New Mexico Legal Director. “What happened to our client is one of many recent incidents where people of color, especially black people, have had the police called on them for simply existing in public spaces. This kind of racist and illegal behavior puts people of color in grave danger, and we will not tolerate it in our communities.”
Mr. McDowell, a pre-med student at Xavier University in New Orleans, was visiting Santa Fe and northern New Mexico in connection with a class trip, staying at a hotel near the Allsup’s Convenience Store located at 650 Cerrillos Rd. On the evening of August 3, 2018, McDowell went to the Allsup’s to purchase snacks, when he was accused by one of the employees as appearing “suspicious and sneaky.” McDowell questioned the employee’s remarks, and continued browsing whereupon the employee called 911 and explicitly stated that she wanted Mr. McDowell removed from the store because he was “arrogant and black.”
Law enforcement arrived at the Allsup’s and questioned Mr. McDowell outside of the store. The responding officers listened to Mr. McDowell’s account and took no further action, allowing him to leave the premises. To date, no representative of Allsup’s has offered an apology for their employee’s racist behavior towards McDowell.
“It’s frightening that, for people who look like me, a casual stop for snacks can end up with a confrontation with police,” said McDowell. “It’s a terrible feeling to face discrimination like that. No person should ever be turned away or have the police called on them simply because of the color of their skin.”
Under the New Mexico Human Rights Act, it is illegal for a public accommodation such as Allsup’s to discriminate against or deny service to a person because of their race and color.
A copy of the complaint can be viewed below.