UPDATE: The Star Tribune reports Tom Austin’s “office lease has been terminated after a video went viral showing him asking a group of black entrepreneurs if they were tenants of the building and thus allowed to use its gym.”
The CEO of the venture capital firm F2 Group, Tom Austin, was filmed calling security on a group of black businessmen who were using a private gym in a building where they rent an office on May 26 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Austin said he was going to call 9-1-1, but reportedly called MozAic East building security on the black men — who own the digital marketing firm Top Figure.
The men posted a statement on their company Instagram page along with a video of the incident:
Granted in order to enter the building you NEED a key card to enter EVERY part of the building which EACH of our team members individually have. We all pay rent here and this man demanded that we show him our key cards or he will call the cops on us. We are sick and tired of tolerating this type of behavior on a day to day basis.
Austin later defended his actions in an email to Bring Me The News:
Several of these guys were trespassing and using a private gym that was authorized only for building tenants. Seems like nobody cares about the complete truth. One of the tenants brought 4 friends and I complained to them that this isn’t right and it’s unfair to the tenants who pay.
They got in my face in a very threatening manner and I threatened back to call [building] security. I would have done this regardless of race, so this is bullsh*t.
Austin made headlines in 2017 when he wrote an op-ed in the Star Tribune opposing a name change of Lake Calhoun — name after pro-slavery Sen. John Calhoun — to Bde Maka Ska in honor of the native Dakota tribe.
Austin sent another email to Bring Me News, admitting his guilt, sort of:
Yes, I f—– up. Should have handled it differently. Building management had been complaining that tenants were allowing their friends to trespassing and use a private gym that was authorized only for building tenants.
I noticed that one of the tenants seemed to have brought 4 friends and I complained to them that this isn’t right and it’s unfair to the tenants who pay. One guy was letting his other 4 friends in and out of the building with his FOB.
Nobody else had a FOB. When I said something, they got in my face in a very threatening manner accusing me of racial profiling. I said it wasn’t racial profiling and was all about suspicious activity/behavior.
Because they were in my face, I took photos and threatened back to call the building security. I actually only called the building property manager! I would have done this regardless of race. In fact, I told them I’d have done the same thing if they were white, or even a bunch of girls who were trespassing.
What surprises me is that we worked out in gym together for another 45 minutes after I had already apologized to them for making them feel it was a race issue, when in fact it was not.