A viral video shows a storekeeper at Jenkinson’s Aquarium gift shop in New Jersey kicking out a group of African American girls because – she says — “they aren’t welcome here.”
A Patterson, New Jersey woman named Attiya Barrett posted the video to her Facebook account on Friday, after she visited the aquarium with the girls. The girls were with the Princess to Queenz summer camp, an educational summer program for girls in New Jersey.
Barrett says that after visiting the aquarium, the girls wanted to visit the gift shop. But when they went in, an employee named Linda told them that they couldn’t come in without a chaperone.
So, they went outside and got a chaperone. But Linda told them to leave again. That’s when Attia Barrett came in with the girls and started filming.
In the video, Linda stands glowering defiantly while Barrett asks her a few questions. Barrett asks her, “Why did you ask the girls to leave?” And Linda says, “Because they didn’t have a chaperone.” Linda explains that she thought the chaperone the girls brought in was too young to supervise them, which is why she kicked them out again.
Then Barrett asks Linda to repeat what she said to the girls. Linda looks straight at the camera and says, “they aren’t welcome here.”
‘Linda’ Has Been Suspended From Her Job, Pending Investigation
After the video of Linda surfaced on the internet, her comments — and actions — drew outrage and ire.
Benjie Wimberly, the state assemblyman for Bergen and Passaic, said the incident was “both disgraceful and unacceptable. It will not be tolerated in New Jersey, especially when directed towards children.” And he added, “For many of the young girls in the Princess to Queenz Camp, Friday’s outing was their first-ever trip to the Jersey Shore,” he said. “Instead of being able to purchase souvenirs to commemorate a fun experience, they ended their day facing senseless discrimination over the color of their skin.”
Jenkinson’s apologized to the girls and said it had fired Linda. “We clearly missed the mark this time,” Jenkinson’s marketing director Toby Wolf said in an email to local media. “We sincerely apologize 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.”