Hampton Inn worker fired for calling cops on Black guests; Police open 'internal investigation'

Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY

Hampton Inn employee has been fired after calling the police on a Black family using the hotel's swimming pool in Williamston, North Carolina.

"Hampton by Hilton has zero tolerance for racism or discrimination of any kind. On Saturday, we were alerted to an online video of a guest incident at one of our franchise properties," Shruti Gandhi Buckley, the Global Head of Hampton by Hilton, said in a statement to USA TODAY Monday. "The team member is no longer employed at the hotel."

In a nearly 10-minute Facebook Live video shared across social media, a white hotel employee and two Williamston police officers approach a Black woman who is using the pool with her children. They ask the woman, identified on her social media account as Anita Williams-Wright, to prove that she's staying at the hotel. 

"I can’t believe this happened to me and my kids," Williams-Wright captioned the video on Instagram.

"I feel it's discrimination. I have a room here," Williams-Wright said in the video, while holding up her room key. "This lady here is discriminating (against) me. I have a key to get in and I can show you that it works. … I have a room here. I don’t have to give my name. I didn’t break the law."

Williamston Police told USA TODAY that officers responded to the Hampton Inn regarding a "subject trespassing." According to a police report, the hotel employee said the children were found in the pool "unattended" and "located an adult responsible for the children sitting in a vehicle … in the parking lot."

The hotel employee said she "just wanted to make sure everyone who’s in the pool is supposed to be in the pool."

Williams-Wright claims that the hotel employee didn't ask anyone else at the pool area to prove they were hotel guests. 

"It was two white people sitting over there and she said nothing to them," Williams-Wright said in the video. "She said to me, 'Oh, because it’s always people like you using the pool unauthorized.' Who is 'people like me'?"

After Williams-Wright refused to provide identification or a room number, saying she wasn't required to because she "didn't commit a crime," the officers proceeded to run her license plate from her car parked outside of the hotel's pool area. 

"Officers were able to use the vehicle’s registration information to confirm the adult’s identity and verify that they were registered as a guest at the Hampton Inn," the police report stated. "No enforcement action was taken and officers cleared the call."

"Once I prove that I have a room, that was for you to walk away," Williams-Wright said to one of the officers. "I didn’t commit a crime. You are degrading me like this in front of my kids. They are trying to enjoy themselves in the pool."

The video, which has over 933,000 views on Facebook, ended with Williams-Wright and her children leaving the pool area to return to their hotel room. 

Williamston police told USA TODAY that they are opening up an "internal investigation" over the viral video following an "outcry of public concern over this call for service and how it was handled."

"The Williamston Police Department takes the complaint process very seriously," the statement said. "Our office will conduct a thorough and complete internal investigation. We appreciate the public’s concern and efforts to make us aware of this incident."

In a statement to USA TODAY, Hampton by Hilton's Gandhi Buckley said the company has "apologized directly to the guest and her family for their experience, and will work with them and the hotel to make this right."

"We remain in contact with the hotel’s ownership about follow up actions, and to ensure that in the future, their employees reflect the best values of our brand and are welcoming of all," Gandhi Buckley added.

The incident is the latest example of the police being called on Black people for doing everyday activities as racial tensions escalate amid anti-racism and police brutality protests. 

In 2018, a Black man claimed a Hilton Hotel in Oregon "racially profiled" and "discriminated" against him after he was evicted from the property for allegedly taking a phone call in the lobby. 

More: Guest says Hilton 'racially profiled' him by calling police over lobby phone call

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hampton Inn employee fired for calling cops on Black family at pool