Dad ‘racially profiled’ buying son paint in Hobbycraft

By Nathan BevanBBC News

imageDimitris Legakis/Athena Pictures Louis Gray and his sonDimitris Legakis/Athena Pictures
Hobbycraft claim Louis Gray, right, was refused paint because “he looked underage”

A father from Cardiff says he was “racially profiled” while trying to buy spray paint at a branch of Hobbycraft.

Louis Gray went to the store’s Newport branch to buy the item for his four-year-old son’s art project.

But he alleged a staff member refused to sell it to him in case he intended to “undertake an incidence of graffiti”.

Hobbycraft has apologised but said Mr Gray was refused because he looked underage.

The company added it was investigating Mr Gray’s experience, which happened at its unit at Harlech retail park.

In now-deleted posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr Gray said: “In today’s episode of wearing your black skin in public I was racially profiled and refused service at Hobbycraft.”

He said his son was left “confused” by what had happened and questioned if it had been based on his father’s skin colour, asking “would that happen to me because I’m like you, daddy?”.

Mr Gray said that he was surrounded by three members of Hobbycraft staff, including “one wearing a bodycam to record the transaction”.

And while he accepted there is a restriction on the sale of the paint to anyone under 16, he claimed that had he been “white and wearing jeans and a shirt” he “would have been served without question”.

imageGoogle Streetview  Hobbycraft in NewportGoogle Streetview
The store apologised but denied racism

Mr Gray added that he believed he was refused service because he is black and was wearing a tracksuit and designer trainers.

“It was the first time I have experienced racial profiling in front of my child,” read a further post.

“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 and had to stay strong and keep my head up in the face of adversity.”

Mr Gray added that he eventually asked someone white to buy the aerosol for him at the branch, something they managed to do without being challenged about their age.

Hobbycraft’s customer director Katherine Peterson apologised for Mr Gray’s experience and said the situation was being looked into.

“We have a zero tolerance approach to racism and this is not what we want any of our customers to feel,” she said, adding that Hobbycraft “like many other retailers, supports the Challenge 25 Policy”.

She said the sale refusal was related to Mr Gray being “unable to share ID with our colleagues”.

“All our staff are required to complete diversity focused training to ensure the fair treatment of all and we want to reiterate how seriously we’re taking this,” she said.

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