An employee of Jenkinson’s Aquarium gift shop in Point Pleasant Beach has been suspended after video revealed her telling the adult chaperone of a group of young black girls that the girls “weren’t welcome” in the shop. The four girls, aged 12 to 13, were part of a bigger group of kids on a day trip with a Paterson, NJ-based summer- and school-year camp called Princess to Queenz. The camp director, Attiyya Barett, 42, posted the video to Facebook, where it’s since gone viral.
The girls were initially thrown out of the aquarium’s gift shop on Friday because they didn’t have a chaperone (even though there were reportedly young white girls in the shop without chaperones). But when the girls came back with their chaperone, Latrice Reed, a 32-year old counselor with the camp, the employee didn’t think the chaperone was “real,” so she kicked them out again.
At that point, Barett got involved. One employee was filming the scene with her phone, so Barett pulled hers out and started recording, too. The employee who’d kicked the girls out actually had the nerve to say, “You guys love to get your phone out to record,” according to Barrett. WOW.
One of the girls, 13-year-old Kianna Williams, told USA Today, “We were all excited to go because a lot of the girls had not been there before.” She continued, “[The employee] threatened to get security,” and said she started to think, “What did I do wrong to deserve this?”
The gift shop employee was suspended on Sunday, after an investigation by the store. Jenkinson’s Pavilion, which owns and operates private beaches, boardwalks, and the aquarium, gave a statement saying discrimination of any kind wasn’t tolerated by the company.
In an email, Jenkinson’s marketing director, Toby Wolf, said,
“We strive to provide all of our customers with an enjoyable experience and we clearly missed the mark this time. 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.”