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Man accused of racism no longer employed by Sonoco after incident at community pool in Winston-Salem

Man accused of racism no longer employed by Sonoco after incident at community pool in Winston-Salem

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Pool

A woman posted video to Facebook of what she claimed was a case of racial profiling after a man questioned whether she had permission to use a community pool.

Update: The Winston-Salem man accused of racism after asking a black woman for her ID at a community pool no longer works for Sonoco. The company received hundreds of social media messages, many calling on the corporation to fire Adam Bloom, after Wednesday's incident at a private pool for residents of the Glenridge community.

Sonoco posted on its Facebook page Friday that "the well-documented incident, which involves activities at a neighborhood pool over the 4th of July, does not reflect the core values of our Company, and the employee involved is no longer employed by the company in any respect."

The Journal will update this developing story as more details become available.

***

Winston-Salem police were called to a private community pool Wednesday afternoon after a white man asked a black woman to show her ID.

Video of the incident was posted to a Facebook page that identifies the woman as Jasmine Edwards and had gotten nearly 3 million views by Thursday afternoon.

On Twitter, the incident was trending with the hashtag #idadam. In the video, the woman referred to the man as Adam. Hundreds of people had tweeted about it, with some tweets tagging the man’s alleged employer.

Attempts to reach the man, as well as attempts to reach the woman who shot the video, were unsuccessful Thursday.

The Glenridge Homeowners Association later identified the man as Adam Bloom. No one answered the door at his home Thursday afternoon.

An attorney representing him said Bloom, who served as the pool chairman and as a board member for the community's homeowner's association, was doing his job when he asked for an ID because another resident had questioned whether the woman was a member of the pool.

Bloom and the woman who shot the video both live in the Glenridge community, which is off Robinhood Road, said Karam Gulkham, a lifeguard manager for the pool.

The pool is gated. Members have cards and must scan them to get into the pool area.

About 2 p.m. Wednesday, Bloom asked a black woman, who was in the pool area, for identification, Gulkham said.

“There’s a keycard to the door to get into the pool,” Gulkham said. “Apparently it was not enough for him. I don’t know why he felt it wasn’t enough.”

In the video posted to Facebook, Bloom can be seen talking to the woman and police officers outside of the gate.

The woman tells the two officers that Bloom asked for her address, then asked to see her ID.

“Where does it say that I have to show an ID to use my own pool,” the woman says.

She can be heard on the video saying she felt she was racially profiled while at the pool with her child.

Bloom said he asks residents a few times a week for their ID.

The woman asks the officers if Bloom could be charged with a crime for racially profiling her. The officer responds that it would be a civil case.

The woman then told officers she had a keycard to get in the pool.

“OK, let’s validate that it works, then,” Bloom says in the video.

An officer scans the card across the reader, and it works.

Bloom then mentions the ID again and the officer says that the scanned card should be enough.

Moments later, the man tells a police officer that, “They kind of make their way around sometimes... but that’s good enough for me today.”

The officers apologized to the woman. The woman then asked the man if he wanted to apologize. He walked away.

Gulkham, who was not at the pool on Wednesday, said all lifeguards were apprised of the incident via a group message. He said officers resolved the situation peacefully, but he was left wondering why it occurred.

Gulkham said he spoke with the woman who shot the video.

“I felt the need to apologize to the family,” he said.

The Glenridge Homeowners Association announced Thursday afternoon that Bloom resigned his position as the pool’s chairman and board member, effective immediately.

“We sincerely regret that an incident occurred yesterday at our community pool that left neighbors feeling racially profiled,” the association’s statement said. “In confronting and calling the police on one of our neighbors, the pool chair escalated a situation in a way that does not reflect the inclusive values Glenridge seeks to uphold as a community.

“We also have re-instituted a sign-in sheet at the pool to make sure no resident feels singled out again,” the statement said.

John Vermitsky, an attorney representing Bloom, said Thursday night that the incident involving his client actually started before Edwards began videotaping.

A female member of the pool initially approached Bloom about whether the woman who shot the video was a member of the pool. Bloom’s job as the pool’s chairman was to check the pool members’ credentials to make sure that they are members of the Glenridge community pool, Vermitsky said.

Bloom then asked for an ID, and that’s when the woman became angry, Vermitsky said. That’s also when she began videotaping the encounter.

“I think the situation is unfortunate that conclusions are being reached by people who have seen a 46-second video of their interaction,” Vermitsky said. “He called the police to make sure that the interaction didn’t escalate.”

Vermitsky said that Bloom resigned his position as the pool’s chairman and as an association’s board member because he didn’t want the association to receive any negative reaction and publicity from the incident.

“Nothing about his resignation implies that he did anything wrong,” Vermitsky said.

The association said it will take additional steps to ensure consistent and equitable application of its pool policies and procedures.

“We apologize to our neighbors who were directly hurt by these actions, and we hope that everyone in Glenridge will join us in redoubling our efforts to care for and support all of our neighbors during this difficult time,” the statement said.

The pool’s employees will meet today with Brian Callicot, the president of the Glenridge Homeowners Association, to discuss the incident, Gulkham said.

snewell@wsjournal.com 336-727-4068 @s_k_newell on Twitter

jhinton@wsjournal.com 336-727-7299 @jhintonWSJ on Twitter

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