EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)–A reported claim of racism at a central Illinois trampoline park Saturday is an issue N.A.A.C.P. leaders are saying needs to be taken seriously.
Saturday night, four black girls say they were harassed and called racial slurs by other teens attending ELEVATE’s ‘teens night.’ The girls addressed those concerns with staff, but were not given what they say is an acceptable answer.
Sunday afternoon, a group of protesters with signs gathered outside ELEVATE saying the staff and managers did not take their complaints seriously.
“It’s a very serious issue, some may deem it as small, but it can very easily; given the situations across the country addressing racism. Just a small spark can start a forest fire,” said N.A.A.C.P. president, Marvin Hightower.
Marvin Hightower, president of the Peoria chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. says Elevate needs to take action and address the issue appropriately.
“I’ve talked to someone higher up and they confirmed just as the manager here said that it’s a zero tolerance policy and that they can be terminated because of it.”
East Peoria police were dispatched to the scene on a call of a potential fight breaking out. The chief confirming Monday the call was placed by an Elevate employee. Chief Steve Roegge says despite how inappropriate the the use of the slur was, there’s no grounds for arrest based on the context it was used and the First Amendment.
Hightower says the situation was handled terribly from the beginning and that this incident will change the girls forever and makes them feel worthless.
“They’re going have to deal with this for who knows how long. They’re going deal with this trauma.”
He also says now is a time for education and calls for his white brothers and sisters to study the roots of racism.
“Until white people or other individuals know how bad it is and want to do something about it by getting educated about it, then we can move forward, but until then we’ll come back around to having this talk.”
Elevate is expected to make a decision on the employees’ future Tuesday. The trampoline park releasing this statement via Facebook Sunday.
The indoor trampoline company posted to it’s Facebook page Sunday saying it’s diligently investigating the claim.
The ownership of Elevate Trampoline Park would like to invite anyone that had any direct involvement with the situation that arose last night between young guests & our staff, to please direct message us your contact information. We are diligently investigating a claim of a racial slur being used between young guests during Teen Night and the way our staff handled the situation.
In an effort to set up a constructive conversation with all the involved parties, we are trying to reach you and personally talk with you. We are committed to making sure we hear everyone’s voice and safely remedy the situation for everyone involved. Racism in any form is very painful and disgusting. It will not be tolerated by Elevate Trampoline Park. We want to be a safe haven for everyone in our community regardless of color or race.”
ELEVATE TRAMPOLINE PARK (EAST PEORIA) @ELEVATEEASTPEORIA
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