An Australian couple were “shocked” after their 4-year-old son was asked to take off his hoodie in a gas station by the attendant. According to the Daily Mail, it was a part of the gas station’s policy to deter armed robberies.
Sarah Robinson took her son, Cooper, with her to a BP gas station in Queensland on May 29. It was there her boy was asked to take off his Batman hoodie.
“We pulled in about 8:30 on Friday night — I went in with Cooper, it was late at night and cold,” Sarah said, “so he had his hoodie on.”
She said: “I went up to the counter to get something and the lady behind the counter said, ‘little fella, you have to take your hoodie off.’ He looked up at me a little confused because he’s only 4, and then took it off.”
Sarah voiced her opposition of the policy to the attendant.
“I said, ‘that’s a bit ridiculous don’t you think?’ but she said it was policy,” the mother recounted. “I said, ‘what, are you afraid he’ll pull a gun out or something?’ and she said ‘no, but he might steal a Freddo Frog (chocolate bar).’”
Robinson says she felt it was like an attack on her as a mother.
“It felt like it was a question against my parenting,” she said. “Like she didn't trust me as a mum to keep him under control.”
“At the heart of it … the question is what’s the motivation?” Danny Robinson, Sarah’s husband and Cooper’s father, said. “Because, obviously a 4-year-old isn’t going to pull a gun and go on a rampage in the servo (gas station).”
He continued, “I'm an Indigenous man, and Cooper has taken after my complexion, and there are people who treat people differently because of that. It's not a common occurrence, and I definitely do not want to label anyone anything, but it certainly does happen to us.”
He added, “We don't know what was going through her head and don't want to speculate why she did what she did or call people anything, but this sometimes happens.”
The mother believes that racial prejudice played a role in the decision to make Cooper take off his hoodie saying, “I 100 percent stand by what I said in a bit of a rant on Facebook — if Cooper was light-skinned and had blonde hair I do not believe this would have happened.”
A BP spokesman got into contact with Sarah and apologized to her after she voiced her concerns through its Facebook page.
“Similar to banks and many other retailers, it has been a policy for many years,” said the representative. “It is designed to reduce the risk to staff and came about through working closely with police and from incident investigations following attempted and actual robberies.”
She added, “The customer service representative who asked the child to remove his hoodie has been spoken to and was asked to take a more commonsense approach to the policy in the future.”
Photo Credit: Daily Mail