White businessman's office lease terminated after calling police on black men at his gym in Minneapolis

May 28, 2020

A white businessman has had his office lease terminated after a viral video showed him calling the police on a group of black entrepreneurs who he claimed had no right to be in his gym.

Social media startup Team Top Figure shared a video of their interaction with venture capitalist Tom Austin in their office building gym in Minneapolis on Tuesday night.

The clip, which has had more than 50,000 likes on Instagram, shows him taking pictures of the men and accusing them of not being tenants of the building in Minnesota.

Despite the men saying "we pay rent", Mr Austin continues to ask "what office are you in?" before warning: "I'm calling 911 now."

In another video of Mr Austin on the phone to police, the entrepreneurs tell viewers: "As you guys can see, we're dealing with racism here."

In the caption for the video, they wrote: "We are sick and tired of tolerating this type of behavior on a day to day basis and we feel that we had to bring light onto this situation."

The building's owner Stuart Ackerberg, CEO of the Ackerberg Group, has since terminated Mr Austin's lease.

He told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he was "heartbroken" and "alarmed" at what he saw in video.

Mr Austin apologised, telling the paper: "I said, 'I'm sorry you thought I was being racist, but I was not. If you were a bunch of women, I would have done the same thing.'"

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It comes after a white woman was sacked from her job with a private investment firm after a video of her threatening to call the police on a black man in New York's Central Park went viral.

Amy Cooper was let go by Franklin Templeton after she was accused of racism over the row, which started after Christian Cooper asked her to put her dog on a leash. The pair are not related.

Another video shared widely online this week showed a white police officer kneeling on an unarmed black man's neck shortly before he died in Minneaopolis.

George Floyd was heard saying he could not breathe and was pronounced dead shortly after. His death has sparked large protests and four of the officers involved in his arrest have been sacked.

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