A New York artist has filed a lawsuit alleging he was the victim of racial profiling and verbal abuse while staying at a hotel in the city in January this year.
In his complaint filed Monday with the New York State Division of Human Rights, artist Kahlil Robert Irving said he was staying at the High Line Hotel in New York City on January 22 when a manager and another member of staff burst into his room and began abusing him. , reported Hyperallergica publication focused on art and culture.
“To state the obvious: as a twenty-nine-year-old black man, it was very traumatic to be confronted by two older white men who broke into my hotel room without warning while I was sleeping. , yelling at me and saying I had to leave immediately and the police were called,” Mr. Irving wrote in his complaint.
“Can anyone seriously believe that this incident would have happened and happened in such an aggressive and malicious manner, for any other reason, and in the absence of hostile racial stereotypes?”
According to Mr. Irving, the hotel manager entered his room around 7:30-8am while he was still asleep.
The door was not fully closed and the manager asked Mr. Irving if he was okay. He then left the room after Mr. Irving said he was.
The complaint said that about half an hour later, when Mr Irving had fallen asleep again, the manager and another member of staff returned without knocking or giving any other warning.
Mr Irving said the manager hovered over his bed ‘shouting’ and using ‘abusive language’ while his colleague stood at the entrance to the room blocking him.
The manager told him he was “not supposed to be here” and had to leave, further identifying him as a homeless person who invaded the room.
It was only after Mr. Irving was able to show them proof of his reservation on his phone that the manager and his colleague backed out.
“The case is ongoing because we attempted to engage in informal dialogue with the hotel and its parent company, to discuss these matters, but they were unwilling to engage in such dialogue,” said Laurence Eisenstein, Mr. Irving’s attorney.
“We got to the point where we didn’t think they would address the issues and concerns without us initiating some sort of legal process.”
The hotel did not release a statement and, according to Mr Irving, neither the hotel nor its parent company MCR Hotels acknowledged that the attack was racially motivated.
Instead, they called it a “misunderstanding.”
“They never said it was a breach of protocol or that it was unacceptable,” Mr Irving told the outlet. “It is and was completely irrelevant.”
“Now I have to live with the dread of someone walking into my room at any hotel I may be staying at,” he added.