Minneapolis Man Accused Of Racially Profiling Black Tenants Loses Office Lease
A white man in Minneapolis saw his office lease terminated after he threatened to call police on black entrepreneurs using the building’s gym this week, according to The Hill.
Tom Austin, a venture capitalist and managing partner of F2 Group, encountered owners of Top Figure, a Minneapolis-based social media and branding agency, in the gym open to all of the building’s tenants.
Top Figure posted video of the exchange on its Instagram page, garnering more than 65,000 likes as of Thursday afternoon.
The video shows a white man walk up and say, “I’m Tom Austin. I’m a tenant in the building. Are you?”
Austin did not call police, deciding instead to call the building manager to verify that the men were permitted to be in the gym.
Top Figure noted in its Instagram post that the company has been renting space in the building for a year and a half, as well as the fact that a key card is required to gain entry to every area of the building.
In the video, one of the men can be heard saying, “As you guys can see, we’re dealing with racism here.”
Austin insisted to the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he was not being racist and said by the end of the encounter, he was “on talking terms” with the men.
"I said, 'I’m sorry you thought I was being racist, but I was not. If you were a bunch of women, I would have done the same thing,'" Austin told the Tribune.
The Hill noted that the incident occurred in the same city where a white police officer pinned a black man to the ground with a knee on his neck this week, which ultimately resulted in George Floyd’s death.
Stuart Ackerberg, CEO of Ackerberg Group, which owns the MoZaic East building, said he was still heartbroken from seeing the video of Floyd when he decide to terminate the lease.
“My heart hurts,” he told the Tribune. “This is not how we do business. ... I’m alarmed by what I saw.”