Media Contact

Katie Hoeppner at khoeppner@aclu-nm.org or 505-266-5915 x1013

January 14, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, along with cooperating attorney Richard Rosenstock, filed a complaint in the First Judicial District Court 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. “With this lawsuit, we’re putting all public accommodations in our state on notice that incidents of blatant discrimination will not go unanswered.” 

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.”

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. The ACLU filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Bureau in November, 2018 and in September, 2019, after investigating the incident, the bureau found probable cause for discrimination.

“As we’ve seen from countless similar incidents across the country, calling the police on someone simply because of the color of their skin is not only wrong, it can put people in harm’s way,” said Howard. “This kind of discriminatory and dangerous profiling has no place in our state.  We’re doing everything we can to bring it to a halt.” 

A copy of the complaint is available below.

 

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