Melvin Taylor, Brand Marketer
Oct. 13, 2018, a white woman blocked a black man from entering the Elder Shirt Lofts apartment complex in St. Louis, Missouri. The woman, Hilary Thornton, 32, was physically standing in the doorway, blocking the man, D’Arreion Toles, 24, from entering the apartment complex where he lives. Thornton asked Toles questions about the apartment, touched him, yelled at him and followed him to his apartment on the fourth floor. Toles recorded the whole interaction in a series of videos he posted to his Facebook page. Police arrived at Toles’ apartment 30 minutes after the incident.
In the video, Thornton asked Toles if he lived in the apartment complex, asked him for his unit number, claimed to be uncomfortable and refused to let Toles in even after he said he lived on the fourth floor. Toles lightly pushed Thornton out of the way after asking her multiple times to let him in. Thornton followed Toles into the elevator, asked him who he’s there to see and why is he there. Toles told Thornton once again that he lives in the apartment complex and this time Thornton said she wanted to introduce herself. Toles asked Thornton to stop following him and stated that he was going to call the police for harassment. When Toles arrived at his apartment door, Thornton was standing outside, saying “I just wanted to say hi, what is your name?” Toles told Thornton to have a goodnight, that her actions looked stupid and introduced himself before closing his door.
In an interview with FOX 2 News, Thornton defended her actions, stating she was following the instructions of her condo association board members.
Thornton said the instructions were to “never allow access to anyone individual that you do not know.”
In the interview, Thornton showed emails backing this information up. The interview sheds some light on a few things, one of which being that Thornton had the door to the complex opened so that her dog could go to the bathroom. After the original videos went viral, she was fired from her job at Tribeca STL due to racial profiling. Thornton is also currently married to a black man, but they are separated.
Thornton was clearly wrong in this situation. What was it about Toles that was suspicious? I watched an interview with Toles after this situation and nothing about him seemed suspicious. Thornton’s husband was a man of color so there is a possibility this incident was not racially motivated, but instead motivated by Thornton’s ignorance. Even with the instructions from the board members, I still think Thornton was in the wrong. As someone who has lived in a dormitory with similar rules about letting people in, I held the door for people walking behind me. If they did not live in the building, they had to show their identification and know someone in the building to fully get access to anything.
Throughout the video, Toles can be heard constantly telling the woman that he lives in the building. Why did she not just take his word? In the FOX 2 News interview, Thornton said Toles would not show his key, but in the videos by Toles, his key can be seen as clear as day. The police showed up at Toles’ apartment, meaning that Thornton called the police after the video. Calling the police after seeing someone enter their own apartment is just plain ignorance.
Elder Shirt Lofts has their own tenants deciding who gets in and who does not which puts them at fault with Thornton. The complex needs security or a desk attendant by every door. Why are they asking their tenants to stop people from entering and exiting the apartments? That is not their job and if I lived there, I would not do anything about people entering the building. You cannot expect someone to know everyone in their apartment complex. There are just too many people. As I stated earlier, I lived in a dormitory and I did not know all of the people that lived there.
If Toles tried to enter the apartment complex while I had the door opened, I would have let him in. Toles told Thornton he lived in the building and that should have been enough for a fellow resident. Toles had nothing to prove to Thornton in the first place. If Thornton’s actions were not racist, they were still harassment and I think faults falls onto the board members of the Elder Shirt Lofts and Thornton herself. Elder Shirt Lofts needs to get security and Thornton, in my opinion, should not be worried about who enters the apartment complex.
In an interview with CBS, Toles said, “I am just glad I had my camera out. If I did not have my camera out, I feel it could have gone a totally different way.”
Toles does not want to pursue Thornton legally, but I think she should be pursued and removed from her apartment. I want people to know that calling the police on someone who is black because you perceive them as suspicious or think they are breaking rules is wrong. This is happening too much for these incidents to not be racially motivated. If you google “white person calls police on black person,” far more articles pop up about these incidents than they should.