MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota venture capitalist said it was a mistake to question a group of black businessmen about being tenants in a building after the incident went viral on social media, and he lost his office lease.
The video shows Tom Austin, a white man, saying he was going to call 911 on the group of five men when he found them using the building’s gym. Instead, he called the building’s property manager, the Star Tribune reported.
Top Figure, a social media and branding agency, posted the video Tuesday on Instagram. The company is a member of the WeWork co-working space in the building. The men who work at Top Figure could not be reached for comment.
Austin confirmed Wednesday that he lost the lease for his company, F2 Group, at Ackerberg Group’s building in Minneapolis.
“Should have handled it differently,” he said in an e-mail. “Not my job to have done anything.”
“I shared with him that I did not think it was handled well and there are other ways to go about this,” Ackerberg said of speaking with Austin.
This incident comes in the same week that a white woman was fired from her job after a viral video showed her calling 911 on a black man who asked her follow Central Park’s rules and put a leash on her dog. Another viral video shows a white police officer in Minneapolis kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, who died. Four officers were fired.