Comic and actor Mark Curry said he was racially profiled and harassed on Friday at The Mining Exchange hotel, a Wyndham Grand Hotel & Spa, in Colorado Springs.
The 61-year-old former star of the ABC sitcom “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper” posted a 26-minute video on Instagram from Dec. 9 that showed him being boxed in by hotel staff in the lobby, repeatedly questioned as to whether he was a guest, and later followed around the lobby after a bizarre check-in experience, he said.
Curry had traveled to Colorado Springs to perform at 3E Comedy Club, and was with 3E’s CEO Eric Phillips at the time of check-in, according to the Colorado Springs Independent. Curry believes he was harassed and racially profiled because he was Black.
Curry and Phillips didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.
The trouble started, Phillips told the Independent, after he asked a front desk employee about The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway. “The girl there, she said she wasn’t secure answering the question and another woman took that to mean she wasn’t secure with the Black man standing at the counter,” Phillips said.
Curry’s subsequent Instagram video was quickly picked up by TMZ, The Daily Beast, BET, Entertainment Weekly and at least a dozen other news and entertainment publications. It starts with him sitting in the lobby, which was buzzing with activity as an employee repeatedly asked if he was a guest — despite just having checked in.
“Let’s go look at your status of whether or not you’re staying at the hotel,” the man said.
“But there’s a lot of white people that’s sitting out there,” Curry responded. “Let’s go ask them.”
The white employee, who is not wearing any identification and is eventually joined by a Black employee, said that the other people were buying drinks and thus were allowed to be there. Curry asked if he would be considered OK to be in the lobby if he bought a drink. The man said yes — that he’d then be considered a patron of the hotel, “which I asked you several times,” the employee said.
“They got me locked up you guys,” he said to his camera phone. “I feel threatened. … Look at the stance. You’re making me feel scared, sir.” The employee does not respond to several requests from Curry to back up.
Curry then began livestreaming his video Instagram, eventually racking up about 100,000 views and more than 5,000 comments. The video showed the two employees follow him as he walked around the hotel, and other employees ignoring his attempts to ask if they work there.
A woman at the desk does not appear to recognize him as he complains of being followed. She asked him if he’s a guest of the hotel.
“Didn’t you check me in?” Curry asks her in the video. He refuses to say whether he’s a guest, having already checked in. He’s the only Black man in the lobby, and no other guests are being harassed, he said.
She said he’s being followed for “safety.”
Curry identified the white employee who harassed him in the lobby as John Cramm, the “establishment’s certified director of engineering and security,” according to the Independent. He was the one who first asked to see Curry’s room key to justify his presence. In his Instagram message, Curry encouraged people to call the hotel and complain about Cramm and his racism.
“When is this going to stop?” Curry asked after getting off the elevator and going to his room, where he continued to livestream about the incident.
Employees at The Mining Exchange did not answer multiple calls or immediately return emails on on Monday morning. Representatives of Wyndham Hotels did not respond to requests for comment. Callers were unable to leave voicemails as every available inbox on the menu was full, and calls to the hotel’s reservation line looped back on itself.
“We deeply regret this incident and have reached out to Mr. Curry to offer not only our sincere apologies but a full refund of his stay and an invitation to return, at no cost, anytime in the future,” reads a statement emailed to The Denver Post and attributed to general manager Neil Cramm. The letter promised to “revisit training with our staff, helping to ensure all interactions are reflective of our company values. …”
Curry declined to comment via phone to the CS Indy and said he was talking to an attorney.
As of Monday, 3E Comedy Club’s Instagram account was filled with messages about the incident, with one commenter tagging the hotel and asking: “After what @miningexchange did to @therealmarkcurry will you be finding a new hotel to accommodate your performers?”
Actor Holly Robinson, Curry’s co-star on “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper,” posted a message of support for Curry on Sunday after she watched the 26-minute video. “There was no reason for Mark to be singled out except for the fact that he’s a black man,” she wrote on her Twitter account, which counts about 755,000 followers. (Curry does not appear to have updated his own Twitter account over the last 12 months, but is a regular Instagram poster).
“Since when do you have to identify yourself sitting in the lobby drinking coffee,” Robinson wrote. “This would be farcical if it wasn’t so disrespectful.”
The Mining Exchange opened in 1901 as a stock exchange for mining corporations, according to a June press release announcing its sale to Kemmons Wilson, a hotel investment firm. The Mining Exchange later become an office building before it was gutted to its brick-and-granite bones and transformed it into a boutique hotel.
This is a developing story that will be updated as new details become available.
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