Tom Austin was an F2 Group venture capitalist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. In May 2020, video footage of him questioning several black entrepreneurs about their presence in an office building’s gym went viral on social media, prompting accusations of racial profiling from both the public and his business partners alike; following this incident he lost both his job and office lease lease agreement as a result of this public outrage.
What Was Going on in the Video?
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Top Figure is a social media and branding agency located within MoZaic East Building on Lagoon Avenue in Minneapolis’ Uptown Minneapolis and part of WeWork coworking space, posted an Instagram video by Austin who is white addressing five Black Men who were using its gym. He asked them if they were tenants, when they said yes he asked which office they worked at when they refused he threatened 91112. Later he stated he only called building manager rather than police.
Top Figure revealed on Instagram that they felt this video demonstrated racial profiling and expressed frustration over tolerating this type of behavior on a daily basis. Furthermore, they mentioned having access to the gym via key fob and that they had worked in that building for over one year.
What Are Austin’s Consequences of His Actions?
Austin faced severe consequences for his actions. His company, F2 Group, lost their office lease with Ackerberg Group at its building. Stuart Ackerberg of The Ackerberg Group expressed alarm at what they witnessed on video and told Austin that he didn’t handle the situation well12. Additionally, Austin indicated he no longer served as CEO of F2 Group.
Austin quickly apologized and admitted he should have handled it differently, explaining he was in an intoxicated state before entering the gym and was unaware how his actions might have been seen as racist. After the incident he engaged in “semi-friendly banter with them before fist-bumping them upon his departure. However, Austin maintained the incident had nothing to do with race; any individual using their key fob for others in his group would have been subject to question.
FAQ: The Ultimate Guide to Your Questions
Q: Who is Tom Austin?
A: Tom Austin is a former venture capitalist who ran the F2 Group in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is also known for leading a campaign to prevent local government from changing the name of Lake Calhoun to its Dakota name, Bde Maka Ska4.
Q: What did he do?
A: He questioned a group of black entrepreneurs about their presence in an office building’s gym and threatened to call 911 on them. He was accused of racial profiling and faced backlash on social media.
Q: What happened to him?
A: He lost his job and his office lease as a result of the incident. He apologized for his behavior but denied being racist.