Virginia Dunkin’ Donuts owner calls police on Black woman using free WiFi
The incident occurred about 9 a.m. on Nov. 7 at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Fairfax, Va., says Tirza Wilbon White, who has frequented the location for two years.
Less than a year after the infamous racist incident at that Starbucks in Philadelphia, Dunkin Donuts has now joined the legions of places where simply being Black and breathing is crime enough for some folks to call the police.
Tirza Wilbon White visited her local Dunkin’ Donuts in Fairfax, Va., about 9 a.m. on Nov. 7, planning to work in peace on her laptop—much like she had done in her two years of frequenting the location, according to The Root.
However, on that fateful day, an employee whom White had never seen before, identified as Christina Cabral, informed her that she couldn’t use the store’s WiFi without making a purchase, she told the news website in a telephone interview.
Surprised, given that she had done that very thing before without issue, White inquired if it was a new policy. Cabral reportedly said the policy was not new and that she’d taken it upon herself to start enforcing it.
Sensing something was off, White asked Cabral to point out where the policy was posted for customers to see. That’s when Cabral became defensive, prompting White to begin recording the interaction for her safety.
After more verbal prodding, Cabral begrudgingly admitted that she wasn’t an employee but, in fact, the owner of the franchise, adding that she had neglected to order signs delineating the store’s so-called WiFi policy. Cabral then complained about all the fights that had allegedly broken out at the location.
“They hang out here for eight hours and they get into fights,” she told White. “You can look it up; it was on Prince William County a year ago.
“We’re just trying to make our customers feel safe,” Cabral continued.
At that point White pointed out that a 46-year-old Black woman, peacefully working on her laptop couldn’t be any less related to safety concerns and that instead it seemed as if she was being racially profiled.
“Oh, please,” Cabral allegedly responded. “Don’t get into the racial profiling. It’s my family. I find that offensive.”
And then she threatened to call the police. When White calmly asked why because they were actually having a civil discussion.
“You’re offending me,” Cabral reportedly responded.
After being questioned by police, a weary White got in her car and pulled off to find a safe space to let out her frustrations.
“I just pulled across the street and cried,” she told The Root. “Even now I’m so angry because of all of it and how it could have ended.”
After White contacted the corporate offices of Dunkin Donuts, officials issued the following email statement to The Root:
“We are aware of the video and the situation that occurred at the Dunkin’ restaurant located in Fairfax, VA,” it reads. “The franchisee who owns and operates this location informs us that their policy requires guests in their restaurant to make a purchase to stay in the dining room and enjoy the free Wi-Fi, and this was not clearly communicated to the guest. The lead franchise owner is attempting to contact the guest to apologize for the negative experience. Dunkin’ and our franchisees share a goal of creating a welcoming and hospitable restaurant environment and treating everyone with dignity and respect.”