Black father refused paint for son’s art project by Hobbycraft staff

A black father has said he was refused service at an arts and crafts store when buying paint for his son because staff allegedly assumed he would undertake an ‘incidence of graffiti’.

Louis Gray, from Cardiff, said he was refused service at his local Hobbycraft store on Saturday when trying to buy spray paint with his four-year-old son so that he could have a bike helmet in ‘a new colour to be like his idol’.

Mr Gray alleges he was surrounded by three members of staff — one who was apparently ‘wearing a bodycam to record the transaction’ and one who ‘waved his hands in the air’ to signal more staff.

Commenting on the incident, he said: ‘I did not raise my voice once, I just wore my blackness.’

In an email to Mr Gray, Hobbycraft apologised for his ‘recent experience’ and said the reason why he was refused service was because he could not provide ID for an age restricted product. 

Louis Gray, (pictured) from Cardiff, was refused service at his local Hobbycraft store on Saturday when trying to buy spray paint with his four-year-old son

A stock image of a Hobbycraft store

Mr Gray added: ‘I was buying spray paint, to ironically spray my 4-year-old’s bike helmet a new colour to be like his idol. You need to be 16 to buy spray paint in the UK, 16! Cool I accept that, but that’s in place to stop ‘incidences of graffiti’, in my opinion very different to gambling and alcohol.’

Mr Gray believes he was ‘racially profiled’ by staff at the store and refused service based on the colour of his skin and because he was wearing a ‘Nike tracksuit and Yeezys’. 

He said: ‘It was the first time I have experienced racial profiling in front of my child. It’s something I always thought I could protect him from, however today, it was stolen from me. I was judged in front of him, I had to stay strong and keep my head up in the face of adversity.’

In an email to Mr Gray, Hobbycraft said: ‘We would once again like to apologise for your recent experience in our store, we have a zero tolerance approach to racism here at Hobbycraft and this is not how we want any of our customers to feel. As an employer we are dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for our colleagues and customers, and therefore take your feedback very seriously.

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