Home ENTERTAINMENT Comedian Mark Curry details racial profiling incident

Comedian Mark Curry details racial profiling incident

by LATimes
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Comedian Mark Curry and his attorney are demanding that a zero-tolerance policy against racial profiling be instituted at a Colorado hotel where the TV star stayed briefly last week.

The “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” star detailed his tense Dec. 9 encounter with several hotel employees, which he streamed on Instagram Live, in a statement provided to The Times by his attorney. Curry said he has not yet received a formal apology from the Mining Exchange Hotel in downtown Colorado Springs, Colo., despite a public statement issued by the Wyndham Grand Hotel property on Tuesday.

“I was excited about being in Colorado and had planned to purchase a University of Colorado Sweatshirt in support of [Pro Football Hall of Famer] Deion Sanders’ recent hiring,” Curry said. “All of that ended when I became a victim of racial profiling and discrimination. I have heard about similar incidents but to experience racial profiling firsthand is a true revelation.”

The 61-year-old comedian was in Colorado Springs to perform at the 3E’s Comedy Club in support of the victims of the November mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in the city. He checked into the hotel without issue on Friday, accompanied by Eric Phillips, the chief executive of 3E’s Comedy Club. The profiling incident took place two hours later when he was in the lobby having coffee.

That’s when Cooper said that two employees approached him and asked him if he was a guest there. He appeared to laugh it off at first but grew increasingly upset as the employees followed him around the hotel. He alleged that they made harassing and discriminatory remarks to him, insinuating that he did not belong at the hotel, civil rights attorney Daryl Washington said in the statement.

“Man, a Black man can’t go nowhere. A Black man can’t go nowhere in America,” Curry said in the video. “I want everybody to call this hotel… He was so upset. I did not know what his problem was. He did not want me in that lobby. They walked up to me in the lobby and said, ‘This lobby is private’…what? And they stopped me… I want you guys to give this motherf— place a call and let them know what you think of them stopping Mark Curry.”

In the footage, the employees accused Curry of “pulling the race card,” and the comic made his way to the front desk to end the “embarrassing and threatening encounter.” Curry is seen and heard in the video trying to issue a complaint and asking for police to be called. But the woman behind the counter, whom he said checked him in, also asked if he was a guest and requested his ID.

“Non-African American guests who were also in the lobby were not approached and questioned in a similar manner. Mr. Curry initially thought it was a prank but would soon realize that it was not. The two employees continued to engage in intimidating and threatening behavior toward Mr. Curry by staring and making additional remarks,” Washington said in the statement.

After repeatedly directing his followers to call the hotel and “let them know what you think of them stopping Mark Curry,” the comedian checked out of the hotel after the two-hour stay “for his own personal safety.”

“If a high-profile comedian-actor cannot enjoy his stay at a Colorado Springs hotel, imagine what other less known individuals will have to deal with or have already dealt with,” Washington said.

On Tuesday, the Mining Exchange Hotel said the employees involved in the incident had been suspended pending further investigation, and it publicly apologized to Curry. The hotel also offered to compensate him for the stay and said it would retrain staff following the incident.

However, Curry said he was not informed of that development until he saw a story about it online, nor was he given a personal apology or had anyone reach out to him.

“If the hotel indeed comped Mark’s two-hour stay, that benefits the promoter of the comedy show and not Mr. Curry,” Washington said. “At a time when more African Americans will be frequenting Colorado, excited about the recent hiring of Deion Sanders, Mark felt it was important to bring attention to an issue that continues to exist in 2022.

“Colorado and the thousands of business establishments that will undoubtedly see an increase of African Americans visiting the state must understand that racial profiling will not be tolerated, nor will it be accepted,” Washington said.

Curry wants to see “real, not temporary, change take place,” and he plans to use this incident and his platform to advocate for it.

“Policies must be in place to always protect Black and Brown people. Mark would like to see a zero-tolerance policy against racial profiling immediately instituted at the hotel and other local businesses,” Washington said.

It is unclear whether the comedian plans to take any legal action.

Representatives for Wyndham Hotels did not immediately respond Wednesday to The Times’ request for comment.

This story originally appeared on LATimes

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