STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Hotel employee calls police on Black family using the pool as guests

A White hotel employee called the police on a guest, a Black woman and her children, who were using the hotel's swimming pool over the weekend.

Posted: Jul 2, 2020 9:31 AM
Updated: Jul 2, 2020 9:31 AM

A White hotel employee called the police on a guest, a Black woman and her children, who were using the hotel's swimming pool over the weekend.

Missy Williams-Wright, her son, 11, and daughter, 7, were staying at the Hampton Inn in Williamston, North Carolina, when a hotel employee called the police to report a trespassing, Williamston Police said in a statement on Monday.

Williams-Wright tells CNN she was in town from Raleigh on business, and that she believes she was racially discriminated against because of the color of her skin.

"Hilton has zero tolerance for racism or discrimination of any kind," a company spokesperson told CNN on Tuesday. "Through our extensive Diversity & Inclusion training program, we have made diversity and unconscious bias training mandatory for Team Members at all properties and corporate offices globally."

The Hampton Inn employee in question is no longer with the hotel, but CNN has been unable to confirm whether she was terminated or resigned.

"Up until today, our normal process has been to involve law enforcement when we were unable to confirm if an individual is a guest of the hotel, Vimal Kolappa, CEO, Washington Hospitality, LLC and Owner, Hampton Inn by Hilton Williamston said in a statement to CNN Wednesday.

"We now understand this process may have unnecessarily escalated this situation. We are truly sorry for the impact that this experience had on our guest and her family. We are making every effort to contact the guest directly, so that we can continue to listen to her experience, offer our apologies, and make this situation right."

Kolappa said the hotel will revisit their practices and only call law enforcement in the event of illegal activity or a threat to employees or guests.

"We will ensure that our employees are trained to be able to clearly identify and de-escalate these situations," he said in a statement.

The incident between Williams-Wright, the Hampton Inn and Williamston police is one of the latest examples of calling the police on Black people, amplified by an atmosphere of racial tension following George Floyd's killing -- an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis in May.

'What did I do wrong?'

Hampton Inn staff told two responding officers that during hourly inspections of the hotel they had spotted two unattended children swimming in the pool, and that Williams-Wright was seen in her car in the hotel parking lot, according to the police statement.

Williams-Wright said she was charging her phone and speaking with her mother but had sight of her children in the pool.

Hotel staff told police they asked Williams-Wright to leave the premises while they called the authorities, the police statement read.

When officers arrived and approached Williams-Wright, they asked whether she was a hotel guest and could provide her name and room number. According to the police report, she refused, and instead showed them a key card providing access to the hotel and her room.

Officers continued to insist on seeing some form of identification, but Williams-Wright refused.

Fearing the unfolding situation, she told CNN she started recording live on Facebook. "With everything going on right now, it (the video) was for my protection," she said.

Right at the beginning of an almost 10-minute long video, the police officers and the White hotel employee, who has not been identified, can be heard asking Williams-Wright for "proof" that she had a room at the Hampton Inn.

"OK this is my proof," she said showing her room key. "Why do I have to tell you what room I'm in? What did I do wrong?"

Williams-Wright said that the hotel employee had not asked anyone else previously at the pool for proof that they were guests.

"So, because I am the only Black person here in this pool, they (want to) question me," Williams-Wright says. "But there were two Caucasian people sitting right over there and she said nothing to them."

In the video, no one else can be seen in the pool area besides Williams-Wright, her children, the hotel employee and two officers.

Officers attempted to verify her identity through the registration linked to her car's license plates.

"Once I proved I had a room, that was for you to walk away," Williams-Wright says. "You are degrading me like this in front of my kids. They trying to enjoy themselves in the pool."

Ultimately, officers were able to match the car's registration with Williams-Wright and verify that she was a guest at the hotel and no further action was taken.

The Williamston Police Department said in a statement, "there has been an outcry of public concern over this call for service and how it was handled."

The department said they "take the complaint process very seriously" and is conducting an internal investigation around their response to the call.

'We can move forward'

Williams-Wright said she spoke with the general manager of the Hampton Inn but said she was disappointed and felt that her concerns regarding discrimination were not properly addressed.

The Williamston Hampton Inn is a franchised property, independently owned and operated, according to a Hilton spokesperson. Hilton Worldwide is the parent company to the Hampton Inn brand.

"This is not the Hilton hospitality that our guests expect when they visit one of our properties, and we will be addressing this with ownership immediately," the spokesperson said.

On Monday, Hilton issued the following statement on Twitter:

Williams-Wright and her children stayed at the Hampton Inn through the weekend as she originally planned because she said she didn't want her kids to leave the hotel with the memory of police officers and hotel staff insinuating that they had done anything wrong.

"I was uncomfortable," Williams-Wright said. "But I wanted to show my kids that even though we experienced this, we can move forward."

As an activist who works closely with police in her community, Williams-Wright said she was disappointed in the behavior of the officers who answered the former hotel employee's call. She said she'd like for police officers to undergo more diversity and sensitivity training.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515208

Reported Deaths: 10290
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34981557
DeSoto33342432
Hinds32718643
Jackson24896391
Rankin22553404
Lee16439245
Madison14949283
Jones14155248
Forrest13829260
Lauderdale12305324
Lowndes11348193
Lamar10687140
Pearl River9739244
Lafayette8867143
Hancock7847132
Washington7555169
Oktibbeha7228138
Monroe7055179
Pontotoc7026110
Warren6883178
Panola6783135
Neshoba6740210
Marshall6705142
Bolivar6468151
Union642898
Pike5941157
Alcorn5912107
Lincoln5539136
George510680
Prentiss507785
Tippah495483
Itawamba4877107
Scott478799
Adams4775125
Tate4774117
Leflore4747144
Copiah458095
Yazoo457892
Simpson4565117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4318106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4243109
Leake414090
Newton396082
Tishomingo386194
Grenada3786109
Stone365966
Jasper341266
Attala339590
Winston317992
Chickasaw317667
Clay312778
Clarke301695
Calhoun286349
Holmes272589
Smith269952
Yalobusha244647
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220241
Perry214456
Amite210257
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175241
Jefferson Davis174043
Tunica163539
Benton153239
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134639
Humphreys132239
Franklin126430
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847064

Reported Deaths: 16157
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163702006
Mobile743001381
Madison53394737
Shelby38395371
Baldwin38140589
Tuscaloosa36096642
Montgomery34535782
Lee25639264
Calhoun22620519
Morgan22503408
Etowah20043520
Marshall18812317
Houston17754425
St. Clair16928358
Limestone16178220
Cullman16113304
Elmore15927295
Lauderdale15042307
Talladega14234301
DeKalb13033270
Walker12119380
Blount10756193
Autauga10531157
Jackson10191195
Coffee9431192
Colbert9356210
Dale9035192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell709665
Chilton7077170
Escambia6961144
Covington6956195
Franklin6355108
Chambers5791142
Marion5428130
Dallas5299210
Pike5124109
Clarke485586
Lawrence4841130
Winston4784110
Geneva4649136
Bibb435294
Barbour370080
Butler3445101
Marengo342793
Monroe338066
Randolph337367
Pickens334689
Fayette331385
Henry320866
Cherokee319563
Hale318589
Crenshaw261577
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253355
Clay251669
Macon245465
Conecuh193262
Coosa185647
Lowndes178268
Wilcox178138
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130245
Choctaw93328
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 63°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 66°
Oxford
Clear
° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: °
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 57°
Rain coming in this weekend as a cold front moves through the area bringing cooler temperatures on into the start of next week.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather