A viral video showing a white man asking for a black woman’s ID at a private neighborhood pool has cost the man his job.
An attorney for the man said the recording doesn’t capture the entire incident. The woman’s attorney said she’s a victim of racial profiling.
John Vermitsky, the attorney for Adam Bloom, said in an emailed statement that Bloom has received death threats as a result of the video Jasmine Abhulimen posted to a Facebook page labeled as Jasmine Edwards. Bloom has left his house to be at a safe location with his family, the attorney said.
Two Winston-Salem police officers responded to a disturbance call at the Glenridge Community Swimming Pool about 1:20 p.m. Wednesday. Police Chief Catrina Thompson said police were called by Bloom, who identified himself as the chairman of the pool.
In the call, Bloom first says a resident or a non-resident is refusing to leave the pool but later says “we’d be happy to have her here if she’d just show some identification.”
Bloom and Abhulimen both live in Glenridge community and were at the gated pool, which requires a keycard to gain access. In the video, Abhulimen said Bloom asked for her address. He then asked to see her ID. She tells uniformed officers that she feels racially profiled. Bloom responds that he asks residents a few times a week for their IDs.
Bloom asks Abhulimen to prove her keycard works. An officer verifies that the keycard works, then apologizes to Abhulimen. Abhulimen then asks if Bloom wanted to apologize, but he walks away.
Eric Ellison of Winston-Salem, Abhulimen’s attorney, released a statement Friday afternoon for his client.
“Jazmine Abhulimen was the target of racial profiling on July 4, 2018, while she and her child were swimming at the Glenridge Homeowners Association community pool,” the statement said. “This incident was traumatizing to Mrs. Abhulimen and her entire family. Adam Bloom, was a Glenridge HOA board member, but has since resigned.
“The Abhulimen family desires to work with the Glenridge Homeowners Association to reach a constructive resolution, ensuring that similar incidents do not occur in the future,” the statement said. “Thus, the Abhulimen family has decided to resolve this in a private manner and will not provide any public statements at this time.”
Attempts to reach Abhulimen at her home were unsuccessful Friday.
Abhulimen’s Facebook post of her video had attracted over 5 million page views as of Friday evening. The incident also generated widespread news coverage, including a segment on Friday’s NBC Nightly News where Bloom was interviewed.
“You know I wonder if I, in any way, made her feel uncomfortable, unwanted (and) unwelcomed, especially with her child there, I just want to offer my sincerest apology for that,” Bloom said in the TV interview. “When people see a couple seconds of your life and don’t see it in total, I think they can jump to conclusions that are not there.”
Bloom resigned from his pool post on Thursday.
He also resigned as a board member in the homeowner’s association, and he lost his job, his employer confirmed in a Facebook posting early Friday.
The employer, Sonoco Paper Products Co. stated they’re aware of the incident, saying in part that it “does not reflect the core values of our Company, and the employee involved is no longer employed by the Company in any respect. Our core values at Sonoco are built on dignity and respect for all, and we do not condone discrimination of any kind, inside or outside of the workplace.”
It goes on to state, “On behalf of our more than 20,000 teammates around the world, we extend our sincerest apologies to all who have been hurt by this incident, especially Ms. Edwards and her family.”
Bloom had worked as a business development manager for five years at the company, said Brian Risinger, a company spokesman. He was assigned to a team that helps its sales force develop product and service pricing, along with its business strategy.
Risinger declined to say whether the company fired Bloom or whether Bloom resigned.
“We simply don’t reveal those specifics,” Risinger said in an email.
Vermitsky said that Bloom in his role as pool chair enforces regulations that include allowing only neighborhood residents access to the pool.
“When violations of these regulations occur, it is Mr. Bloom’s job to either address and correct the violation or remove the member from the pool. Over the past seven years Mr. Bloom has had to ask for IDs of pool patrons and removed those who did not have valid memberships an average of four times every season, in an effort to enforce the pool’s adopted regulations. The people removed have included people of all ages and races.”
On Wednesday, Bloom spoke with Abhulimen after another unidentified board member asked Bloom about Abhulimen, Vermitsky said. The other board member didn’t recognize her. Vermitsky said in the statement that when Abhulimen was questioned about her address, she provided one that was a street with no houses.
The board member asked Bloom to verify Abhulimen’s address, Vermitsky said. When Abhulimen did, she provided a different address, which was her correct one, Vermitsky said.
Vermitsky said Bloom didn’t intend for Abhulimen to feel discriminated against.
“Mr. Bloom wants Ms. Edwards (Abhulimen) to feel welcome at the pool and is deeply regretful if his enforcement of the rules appeared to be racially motivated. Mr. Bloom feels terrible for the pain this must have caused Ms. Edwards and her family. Mr. Bloom’s intentions during this incident were to enforce the pool’s rules uniformly, without preference or prejudice.”
Thompson said that Officers Aaron Lazusky and Angie McKaughan determined that no crime had occurred and resolved the issue without escalating the situation between Bloom and Abhulimen.
“This type of performance occurred as expected and was based on the officers’ overall training and experience as professional law enforcement officers,” Thompson said. “Under my command, the women and men of the Winston-Salem Police Department consistently attempt to resolve incidents while maintaining respect for all persons involved.”