A group of seven black girls were asked to leave an aquarium gift shop by the owner who said they were "not welcome" without a chaperone.
But when the group returned with an adult from their summer camp, they said they were still told to "get out" and that they "are not welcome" in an incident at Jenkinson's Aquarium Gift Shop, New Jersey.
Camp director Attiyya Barrett, who posted a video to Facebook of herself questioning the employee, said the young campers “ran out crying asking why they couldn’t buy something".
In the 25-second clip, which quickly went viral, Barrett can be heard saying:
She doesn’t want the child to shop in her store because she said they have to be with a chaperone, they go get the chaperone and then she excuses all of our girls to leave the store because she doesn’t want them there.
The footage shows the worker, only named as Linda, laughing. When Barrett asks her why, the employee replies:
Because they didn’t have a chaperone.
The employee added:
I didn’t think she was a chaperone.
I said, ‘You’re not welcome here.’
Barrett wrote on Facebook that the group were "racially profiled and discriminated against", adding:
THE CONSTRAINT I had to exhibit in front of them leaves a horrible taste in my mouth.
I had to explain to 40 girls that they are still valuable and they’re green dollars still spends even if racist folks try to hurt them!
She won. TODAY!
But FYI our black dollars aren’t welcome in the Jenkinson’s Aquarium Gift Shop! Owner “Linda” said so!
Barrett posted a photo on Facebook of the girls after the incident, saying the "racist lady DID NOT WIN!".
In the caption, she wrote:
The racist lady DID NOT WIN!
My princesses left with poise and a lesson on their money is good money and shouldn’t be spent everywhere.
Several cried on the bus on the way home.
But “Linda D” you didn’t break us! You didn’t win!
These Proud Princesses of color were not moved by your banter!
In a statement, the company's marketing director Toby Wolf said:
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 apologise 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.