When a South Carolina store owner called security and threatened to notify police on a group of black men for talking too loud, putting their negro hands on his merchandise and—most egregiously—paying him no attention, the young men learned a valuable lesson about racial profiling and being black in America. However, it turns out that the group in question was not a roving band of unruly thugs, but an HBCU professor on vacation with his scholar/athlete sons.
Every year in early June, thousands of high school graduates head to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for “Senior Week” to celebrate their high school graduations. But instead of simply sending his sons to the resort city unsupervised, college professor Chris Carraway decided that he would take his two sons himself as a reward for completing their high school education and earning college scholarships.
“Myrtle Beach has a reputation and I didn’t feel comfortable with my 18-year-olds going down there without supervision,” Carraway told The Root. “So I took the week off and went down there with them to just hang out.”
Along with his sons, Carraway, who lives in Columbia, S.C., also invited his sons’ friends to join them for the “boys weekend.” The group decided to go shopping at Myrtle Beach Mall and were patronizing Fun Wear Sports when they were approached by the owner of the store, Michael Means, clad in a grease-stained shirt and wearing a haircut that was either a tribute to David Bowie or troll dolls.
And troll he did.
“As soon as we walked in, you could just feel him staring at us,” Carraway said, describing an ancient phenomenon experienced by the Freedom Riders, fugitive slaves and every black person who works at an all-white company.
“It was almost as if he was expecting us to … Well, I won’t speculate why he was staring. But he was staring,” explained Carraway. “Of course, being who we are, black people in South Carolina, that’s not too unusual.”
The graduates continued to shop and talk among themselves as Means watched them closely. After one of the boys made a funny comment that tickled the group, the unamused store owner asked the boys what they were laughing at. Carraway said he quickly stepped in and told the store owner that it was none of his business, at which point which Means reportedly told the group to stay together because he couldn’t “keep an eye” on all of them at one time.
That’s when one of Carraway’s sons pulled out his phone and started recording. The video shows Paul Blart, the Racist Mall Cop yelling to the group, unprompted: “Nobody touch anything unless you wanna buy.”