They Had Every Right to Use the Gym. He Didn't Think So

White CEO in Minneapolis loses office lease after video shows him calling 911 on black entrepreneurs
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2020 2:10 PM CDT
White CEO Accused of Racial Profiling Loses Office Lease
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Chinnapong)

One of the perks of using an office space via WeWork in Minneapolis' MoZaic East complex is that you get to take advantage of the site's amenities, including its gym. But, per the Hill, a group of black entrepreneurs who've owned a business in the building for a year and a half didn't exactly get a neighborly vibe from one of the other tenants. The men who own Top Figure, a social media and branding agency, posted a video on Instagram Tuesday that showed what happened when they ran into Tom Austin, a white venture capitalist who's the CEO of the F2 Group, earlier that evening in the private shared gym. In the video, Austin starts recording the five men with his phone and asks if they're tenants of the building. The men tell him they are but won't give in to his demands that they ID which office space. Austin then says he's going to call 911.

Austin tells the Star Tribune a maintenance worker came and settled things. "We are sick and tired of tolerating this type of behavior on a day to day basis," the men write. Austin says that he got suspicious because he saw one of the men let the others in, and that they got "aggressive" when confronted. The building's owner has since terminated Austin's lease. "My heart hurts," Stuart Ackerberg, CEO of the Ackerberg Group, says. "This is not how we do business." notes Austin recently led a group that kept the name for Lake Calhoun from getting changed to its original Lakota name. The city's parks and rec department had wanted the change because John C. Calhoun, for whom the lake was named, was a slavery proponent. "Should have handled it differently," Austin says of the gym incident. Still, he says his actions weren't racist. (Read more viral video stories.)

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