A DoubleTree security guard, Earl Meyers, referred to as “#HotelEarl” by the social media machine, approached Massey and demanded to know if he was a guest of the hotel. Massey was holding his keycard in his hand, so he showed it to Meyers and continued his conversation with his mother. Meyers then demanded to know his room number; when Massey said he couldn’t remember and continued his call, Meyers used his walkie talkie to summon the manager on duty, identified only as “Luis.” Luis slowly strolled up to Massey and Meyers, already calling 911.
In a series of Instagram videos, Massey documents the unnecessary escalation of events at the hotel chain known for their warm cookies.
Meyers: Portland Police will be here in a minute.
Massey: Thank you, call them. I’m waiting. They’re coming why? Why are they coming?
Meyers: To escort you off the property.
Massey: Because what, and I’m staying here?
Meyers: Not anymore.
When Massey asks if he interrupted any other guests, Meyers just repeats that the police will be here “in a minute.” Meanwhile, manager Luis keeps his distance, never speaking to Massey while calling the cops. A pacing Meyers then takes a radio call, asking a colleague to put his pizza in the fridge, because he has a “situation.”
All the while, passerby can be heard chatting, but nobody stops to help Massey. When the manager, Luis, finally approaches, he’s immediately antagonistic towards Massey, who is seated and speaking calmly.
Massey: If you’re gonna call the cops on me, I’d like to know why.
Luis: I was just asked to.
Massey: So you’re just gonna just follow directions, you’re not going to ask me questions before you call the cops on me … Luis?
Luis: Well, that’s what I was coming to do, so … if you could just calm down, alright, what’s going on, what’s the issue?
Massey: So now you ask what the issue is, after you call the cops on me, right?
Massey: Because I was taking a phone call in the lobby? And Earl decided to come here and harass me?
Luis: I don’t know that, I’m just coming into the situation.
Massey: I’m telling you what happened. You can look at your cameras, I’m sure you have them around here, right?
Luis: Sure. So, he wouldn’t ask me to call 911 without any cause.
Massey: I didn’t do anything to this man. I’m taking a phone call, and I needed some privacy, I had a family emergency going on, and this gentleman decided to come over here and harass me and ask me where I was staying.
Luis: He has a right to do that, you know that, right?
Massey: Did he ask anyone else in here?
Massey: For what reason?
Meyers: Same reason I told you.
Massey: Did you ask them that just walked by?
Meyers: They’re not loitering.
Massey: How am I loitering in an area that’s public?
Meyers: You’re setting here.
Massey: So this area is off limits, after a certain time?
Meyers: Only if you’re a guest.
Massey: I am a guest!
Meyers: You didn’t tell me that.
Massey: I said that I’m a guest.
Massey repeats that he told Meyers he was a guest (and the previous video indicates that’s true), and Luis demands to know his room number.
Massey says “five-something,” explaining that he just checked in today, and opens his keycard envelope to check: Sure enough, it’s room 539. When Massey asks him if he wants to confirm he’d bought a room, Luis makes some very poor word choices.
Massey: Do you want to check and see if I’m a guest?
Luis: That’s why I asked you, man. I’m trying to help you out, bro.
After that condescending exchange, Massey gives up, and says he’s just going to wait for the cops—assuming the police would take his side.
How wrong he was. The PPD officer snidely says that Meyers “controls the hotel,” and implies that Massey is creating a false narrative.
Ultimately, Massey was forced to leave the hotel around midnight. He was allowed to get his belongings from his room, but despite being charged with no crimes, Massey received no refund.
Portland Police, who reported that Massey was “very angry and loud,” then offered to take him to another hotel, but Massey declined and took a Lyft, rather than arrive in the back of a police car. Once at the local airport Sheraton, Massey posted another series of videos explaining the situation, and how the DoubleTree staff made bad choices that did real harm— and how much worse things could have turned out.
“You know, racism is still alive and well, man; it’s sad that people have to go through these things. And I know I’m not the only one, I’m not the first and I’m not the last. But I will not stand for injustice. And it’s one of the things that I’m really passionate about, because judging someone based off the color of their skin—you never know how it feels until you’ve actually been there, and that happened for me tonight.
And it isn’t the first time, but this is a real incident where I could have went to jail if I had responded in a different way … because I was talking on the phone in the lobby.
Massey then encourages viewers to share his story, and tag DoubleTree and Hilton, their parent company, to aid him in his pursuit of justice. Sure enough, the story promptly went viral—and Doubletree did just about everything wrong.
First, they took four days to acknowledge the incident. In a December 26 statement to media (and an identical Twitter thread), DoubleTree management insisted that it was probably all just a misunderstanding, rather than racism—and implies that Massey was, indeed, a threat to hotel “safety and security.”
Paul Peralta, general manager of the DoubleTree, said Monday that he has reached out to Massey to try to amend the situation.
“Safety and security of our guests and associates is our top priority at the Doubletree by Hilton Portland,” Peralta said in a statement. “This unfortunate incident is likely the result of a misunderstanding between our hotel and guest. We are sorry that this matter ended the way it did. We are place of public accommodation and do not discriminate against any individuals or groups.”
Massey retained attorneys, and on December 27, rebuked the hotel’s desire to work things out privately.
“The hotel has requested a private discussion, but Mr. Massey was publicly humiliated,” said a release from Massey’s attorneys. “Therefore, he demands a public statement response.”
Two days later, on December 28, via Twitter thread, the hotel finally apologized and declared that Meyers’ and Luis’ behavior was “unacceptable.” They vowed to “engage a third-party to conduct a full investigation,” during which, the Hilton-owned chain promised, Meyers and Luis would be on leave.
Twenty-six hours later, both men were fired.
Through attorneys, Massey has continued to decline interviews, because Hilton and DoubleTree still have some ‘splaining to do.
Through our firm, Mr. Massey invites the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel chain to publicly answer the following questions:
- As the video shows, the incident took place in a quiet corner of the hotel lobby which was open to the public. At the time, Mr. Massey was returning a personal phone call from his mother who lives on the East Coast. Why was Mr. Massey approached by security? Why was he interrogated?
- The security guard told Mr. Massey that he was a “threat to security,” a statement echoed by the hotel chain’s press release, which states, “Safety and security of our guests and associates is our top priority.” Please explain in detail in what manner Massey was a threat to safety or security.
Once these questions are fully and completely answered, Mr. Massey may be willing to speak publicly on this matter.
In response to Meyers’ and Luis’ firing, Massey attorney Gregory Kafoury had one question: “Why did it take the Hilton chain a week to figure out that the conduct violated their values?”
The attorney added that his firm is also investigating similar reports of racial profiling from other Hilton-owned hotels.
There’s no word on whether or not Earl ever got to eat that pizza.