UPDATED 5/28, 10:20 p.m. ET: Tom Austin lost his office lease after the incident at a shared office space went viral, the Star Tribune reports.
“Should have handled it differently,” Austin told the outlet via e-mail. “Not my job to have done anything.”
Stuart Ackerberg, CEO of Ackerberg Group, which owns the building, spoke to Austin, and told him that he could've handled the encounter differently. “I shared with him that I did not think it was handled well and there are other ways to go about this,” Ackerberg said.
And while original reports suggested that the incident took place at a WeWork, the company has since clarified that it did not.
See original story below.
A venture capitialist in Minneapolis is being accused of racially profiling a group of black men at a WeWork office space, after video of the incident began circulating online on Wednesday. A man, who has since been identifed as Tom Austin, can be seen asking the men if they are also tenants of the building, which has a shared private gym space the men had previously used. When the men don't tell him what floor their rented office space is on, which they have rented for over a year, Austin calls the police.
"As we were working out this man approached and immediately asked us who we were and if 'WE BELONG' in this building," the three men's company, Top Figure, wrote on Instagram alongside videos of the situation. "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 and we feel that we had to bring light onto this situation," they explained further.
This isn't the first time Tom Austin has been called out for racist behavior, as he previously made news for a similar reason back in 2017.
City Pages reported that Austin, who labels himself the CEO and managing partner of venture capital and private equity firm F2 Group, rallied to not change the name of Lake Calhoun, which was named after noted slave owner John C. Calhoun. It was later renamed Bde Maka Ska, in honor of the region's Native American history. "American Indian activists seem to have hijacked the discussion," Austin said at the time. "What is the heroism or accomplishment that we are recognizing in order to justify renaming the lake to Bde Maka Ska?" He also previously suggested that the "white establishment" needn't "atone" for anything.
"They got in my face in a very threatening manner and I threatened back to call [building] security," he added. "I would have done this regardless of race. So this is bullshit."