This actually happened to me and unfortunately it was NOT caught on video to showcase to the world and prove that it did in fact happened in our community!
WOW is all I can say about what happened!
The Event was "The Milwaukee Business Expo" which is created and hosted by the Milwaukee Biz Times Newspaper.
I am Kat Ramirez, Owner and Founder of adBidtise, a startup advertising company that helps businesses make good business decisions with their advertising investments. We had a HUGE milestone we were finally able to afford the ability to get out in the professional marketplace and showcase our advertising services to the Business Community at a local Business event.
Well this is still very disturbing to me and I am still baffled by all the details of what happened to me and my team at this business event.
We had a booth and our plan was to take some pictures for clients and then send them as a follow up. We also planned to get some video clips and footage of business owners and get some takeaway feedback of what their biggest challenge was as a business owner to create a social media video series for other business owners to see that they were NOT alone!
The event began, and we had half my team at our booth greeting people and taking pictures for the social postings and the other half was about a few feet from us talking to business owners and asking them on video what was their biggest challenge.
Every one of my Team Members had their adBidtise t-shirts on and their required badges for the event.
I had stepped away for a moment and when I got back to my booth everyone on my Team was very upset and telling me that someone from the event had threaten to Call The Police On Them!
WHAT NO WAY!
They were all talking, and it was very chaotic at our booth with all the commotion and conversations going on. They did not know what to do and they were extremely confused, insulted, embarrassed and humiliated. They were not sure why they were threaten and they did not know what they did wrong and why someone would go to the extreme to say they would call the police on them to have them removed at a professional event that we paid to be at. So I asked them to calm down and tell me exactly what happened, and this is what they told me:
My two employees were in the hall video-taping business owners about their challenges as I had asked them to do. The lighting in the hall a couple of feet from our booth was a little bad, so they went in the community area that was right next to the hall they originally were at to get better lighting on the video shots.
They talked to a few people and then out of the blue an older gentleman named “J” from the event who had a Staff Badge on told them that he knew what they were doing and that he knew what booth they were at and told them they had to leave immediately, or he was going to:
"Call The Police To Have Them Removed!"
They were STUNNED and SHOCKED by the conversation and the THREAT of calling the police if they did not leave immediately. They looked at each other and said they did not know what they were doing wrong and they were happy to leave the room. They were completely confused and they wondered why this man was threatening to call the police to have them removed for no clear reason at all.
By the way my two employees are college educated professional young men. Terrence is an African American college graduate who is our Video Producer and Raul is a Hispanic college graduate who is one of my Social Media Managers and in case you did not know I am a woman business owner, I am also a proud Hispanic and I proudly served my country and am a veteran owned business.
They quietly left the area and looked for me because they were in COMPLETE SHOCK, and they were extremely upset, humiliated, and completely baffled with what just happened to them at this professional business event that we paid to be at.
They found me and it was complete chaos at my booth. They were absolutely bothered and upset by what just happened to them publicly. Again we paid to be at this event to represent our company where they clearly had our adBidtise t-shirts on with their required badges! There were a few witnesses and it was very humiliating and embarrassing! I was completely irritated that anyone would treat my team this way for no apparent reason what so ever! We had lots of people at our booth, so it was extremely challenging for me to try to manage this situation and still talk to all these businesses that were wanting more information about adBidtise.
My immediate reaction was this was a Starbucks situation and it was over the top and uncalled for and it was clearly DISCRIMINATING!
I asked the guys to find “J” the guy who THREATEN them so that I could talk to him. They found him and told him that I wanted to speak to him, he came to the booth at the time when I was talking to someone and I could see him over the shoulder of the person I was talking to and he asked one of my employees if he should interrupt me and they said no just come back and he replied with a very SNARKY tone “You interrupted me to get me to come over here!” My employee who he said that too was surprised by his response – he clearly did not see the DAMAGE he did nor did he even think that he did anything WRONG!
He took off and I could see over the shoulder of the person I was talking to that he was talking to the organizing leader in the next room where they kicked my people out of. They both headed my way and by the time they came to my booth the person I was talking to was finished and moved on.
I greeted them, and I looked at the organizer and asked if we could go to the other room – before I could even finish my sentence that person STERNLY AND LOUDLY said “NO” …. This was extremely strange and completely humiliating and embarrassing because my whole TEAM witnessed this – I then looked at the two and clarified that I wanted to talk to them in the other room (I wanted to be respectful of our surroundings so that no clients or visitor of the event or other vendors could hear our conversation) and then the organizer said Ooooh yes, we can go to the other room.
We all walked to the common area which was called the "Lounge" and I then told them that I did not appreciate that someone from their organization would go up to my people (whether they were at fault or not) and ask them to leave immediately and "THREATEN TO CALL THE POLICE" on them. I thought it was a little strange how they reacted to what I was saying and now looking back because of the way they said “NO” to me in our conversation leading up to this conversation I felt like the organizer knew about what had happened already and did not see anything wrong with how "J" handled the situation.
The organizer looked at me and said we would not do that and I looked at "J" and said he just did that to my people and I told them that it was very discriminating and he clearly treated them differently because they were of COLOR!
And then "J" said yes, I did tell them that I would call the police to have them removed if they did not leave!
The organizer did not question him or asked him why he did that at all! I told them that this was WAY OVER THE TOP especially since this was a week or so after the whole Starbucks situation.
Are we in an environment now were we need to threaten people of color with calling the police to get them to get out of a room or building or space? Really?
They then said we should have handled this differently and they said they both would apologize to my team. I said again it was extremely inappropriate and discriminating and I am not sure if they could tell that I was furious.
I don’t think they ever saw the magnitude in what they just did!
The organizer grabbed my arm and said Kat I know you are smiling but I can tell you are very upset... I thought to myself YOU THINK! That was all the organizer said, and I went over to my booth to let my team know they were going to apologize to them. BTW - They only apologized to Raul the Hispanic member on my Team – VERY SAD and a very poor apology!
I was never told why they were treated that way and why someone would go to the extent of THREATENING to call the police on them.
This HORRID event was so BLATANT and OBVIOUS but yet their team treated it as if it was normal.
Unfortunately we did not have any video to document this so we did not get any attention with this!
The owner of the event never acknowledged this the day after - I never got a call from the leader of the organization! If this was as important to them or their team or if they totally felt they were truly out of line then I would have expected a call from them the very next day but I never heard ANYTHING, absolutely nothing and that tells me that they did not realize the magnitude of what they just did to me and my team.
This event is created and hosted by a huge Business Trade Newspaper in Milwaukee aren't they suppose to be impartial to represent our business community fairly?
Our intent at the Event was to have my very young impressionable team there to engage with future customers learn about trade shows and how they work and just have a great day talking to people and get out of the office. This clearly did not happen, and it was overshadowed by the negative and discriminating events that they imposed on us for no apparent reason at all!
Why did it happen to us and Why did they threaten to call the police on my TEAM at a professional event? Why was this never treated as a priority for them to FIX?
The irony here is adBidtise was created to help small to mid size businesses - we advocate, educate, and empower businesses so they can make good businesses decision with their advertising investments! Our mission is to help businesses, so they can Stand Out, Survive, Succeed and Grow with affordable advertising options. We fight for the little guy and help them make good business decisions so they don't get taken advantage of.
I have over 30 years of professional experience in corporate America in five major markets and I have never seen this happen to anyone at any professional event until this happened to me and my Team at this event in my community!
Now I question a lot of things about this organization and its ethics and beliefs because of what just happened to us at their event and how it was handled or not handled or acknowledged as a priority even to this day.