Illustration for article titled Report: LA Fitness Called the Cops on a Black Man Because He ‘Fit a Profile’
Screenshot: WCNC-TV

A North Carolina LA Fitness franchise called on the brave police officers who protect and serve (and sometimes shoot black people) after accusing a member of the gym of breaking into lockers and stealing credit cards, only to discover that they had the wrong guy.


According to WCNC-TV, Realtor Ralston Masaniai was at the LA Fitness location in the Ballantyne area of Charlotte, N.C., when he was singled out as the culprit in a series of thefts that occurred at the gym over a period of months.

According to a letter from his lawyer, Masaniai was working out when he “was surrounded by at least four (4) members of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, unlawfully seized escorted from the gym and detained for questioning” after gym employees alerted law enforcement officers.


“We get downstairs, and they say that I fit a profile is what it was, and they wanted my ID,” Masaniai explained.

Employees checked his gym identification against his log-in times, and the police took him in for questioning. At the police headquarters, investigators discovered that his log-in times were drastically different from the times when the valuables were taken from the gym’s lockers.

“As I compared it to what she had, I noticed there was a three-hour difference on every single day,” said Masaniai. “That’s when I noticed what she had printed out and recorded was the times and Pacific time versus Eastern time. And she realized she made a mistake.”

Although LA Fitness has not responded to the accusations of racial profiling, police eventually apprehended the alleged suspect—a totally different black guy who had a long criminal history of theft.


Less than a month ago, a Secaucus, N.J., branch of LA Fitness fired three workers after a viral video showed employees kicking out a pair of black men for having the audacity to exercise at their gym.


Calling the cops on black men as a matter of routine is a practice endorsed by Starbucks, Waffle House and small businesses everywhere. How could these tiny little startups even anticipate that one of these situations could possibly end badly? It’s not as if they could read about it in the news and train their employees not to use the police as their own private plantation guards.

But in the Charlotte franchise’s defense, it wasn’t racially profiling its customers. Sure, the only thing the falsely accused man had in common with the actual perpetrator was the color of his skin. A novice would say that the only thing that matched in the two men’s profiles was their race, but ... you know ... they all look alike.


Like suspects.

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