What was supposed to be a fun girls' day out for Diana Carrillo, her sister Brenda, and two friends turned out, instead, to be a reminder of how discrimination in the U.S. is still rampant.
Carrillo and her companions chose the restaurant Saint Marc in Huntington Beach, California, on March 11, where Carrillo had been once before, according to The Washington Post. She wrote in a now viral Facebook post that her sister and one of their friends began ordering drinks when the waiter made a bizarre demand.
"[T]he waiter asked them for their 'proof of residency,'" Carrillo wrote,"when they ordered a drink."
"My friend in disbelief repeated what he said and his response was 'yeah, I need to make sure you're from here before I serve you.' Not knowing that this happened to them, my friend and I were then seated, and he returned to the table and asked us for our 'proof of residency,'" she went on to write.
The women, who Brenda Carrillo told The Los Angeles Times are "light-skinned Latinas," initially thought he was making a bizarre joke, but when he didn't crack a smile, they decided to handover their IDs. "I looked at my sister and [my friend], and I said, did he really just say that?" Brenda said, according to The Washington Post.
"I’ve never felt so judged in my life…. It sends a chill through your entire body," Diana told The Los Angeles Times.
Currently the Facebook post has over 1,900 reactions and 1,443 shares and, eventually, attracted the attention of the restaurant.
Immediately after the incident, the four women spoke to the manager to let him know what had happened with their waiter; the manager apologized and offered to change their table, but the women decided to leave.
Now management has "pledged to donate 10 percent of the weekend’s proceeds to a nonprofit organization of the group’s choice," The Washington Post reports. "The four women declined the lavish meal, but asked that the restaurant donate the money to Orange County Immigrant Youth United."
Kent Bearden, the senior director of operations at the restaurant told The Washington Post he was surprised by the waiter's actions, adding, "[he]had never received so much as a write-up" in the past, but he has since been fired. "I don’t know if he had an agenda or not," Bearden added.
ATTN: reached out to Saint Marc on Monday, and a representative sent the following statement:
"This very unfortunate incident has been handled internally through the termination of the employee at fault. We also contacted the guest and plan to donate 10 percent of this weekend’s sales to the charity of her choice, Orange County Immigrant Youth United. In no way are the actions of this former employee representative of the Saint Marc brand nor are they reflective of the opinions of anyone else on our team, including executive management. We have always celebrated being part of the diverse Huntington Beach community, which means valuing all guests and treating every individual with respect."
The backlash against Saint Marc hasn't died down.
Saint Marc originally wrote about the incident in an apology post on its Facebook page, which has since been deleted. Bearden told The Los Angeles Times the post was taken down because "the circumstances have moved on" and the issue was resolved, but the Carrillo sisters disagree with the decision — as do patrons of the restaurant, who continue to comment on the incident in Saint Marc's other posts, to which the restaurant replies with a copy/paste response:
These incidents are unfortunately becoming more common. In December, an IHOP waitress found the words "build that wall Trump daddy" written on her receipt. In March, a restaurant received scores of positive attention for including the note "immigrants make America great. They also cooked your food and served you today" on the bottom of its customer receipts.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has reported a rise in "election-related harassment or intimidation" as ATTN: reported in November. "Between Wednesday, Nov. 9, the day after the presidential election, and the morning of Monday, Nov. 14," SLPC reported on Nov. 15, "the Southern Poverty Law Center collected 437 reports of hateful intimidation and harassment."
Though Bearden stressed he didn't know if the waiter "had an agenda or not," The Washington Post reports, "[Diana Carrillo] told The Post that she wondered if the employee’s insulting request was a result of 'who is President.'"