Former NRL player Joe Williams has accused security at a Sydney department store of racially profiling his children.
Mr Williams, a Wiradjuri man, said security at David Jones appeared to stalk the children around the store “for having dark skin”.
His son Brodi, 13, daughter Phoenix, 11, and niece Deminika, 12, were shopping with their grandmother on Saturday to spend Christmas money.
Mr Williams – a boxer, former South Sydney Rabbitohs player and motivational speaker – said Brodi asked security where the cash register was when the guards started following.
“That’s when my mother came there and my mother said, ‘What’s going on here, these kids are with us’,” Mr Williams told The New Daily.
“She felt that they were being watched, they were being spoken about, and at the time they were just in there doing some shopping.
“The guards didn’t say anything, they just walked off … Call me paranoid, but for me that’s alarm bells.”
The department store’s official Twitter account responded to Mr Williams on Sunday and apologised, adding the claim would be investigated.
Mr Williams made clear he did not want the security sacked over the incident, but said it needed to be called out.
“The action I want out of this isn’t people getting sacked. The action I want out of this is people getting educated, whether it be about how they interact with their customers and so forth – no one’s asking them for special treatment – it’s about not looking like you’re following kids who are brown.”
People of colour have a similar experience every day in Australia, he said.
“It tells you that we’ve got further to go,” he said.
“I’m just calling out rubbish behaviour to save trauma impact on kids, that’s what it’s about.”
Today, my own children aged 11 & 13, along with my 12 yr old niece; followed continuously around @DavidJonesStore Syd city by security; all this witnessed by my mother..
— Joe Williams – TEW (@joewilliams_tew) February 10, 2018
Mr Williams said he had received blowback since he first described the incident on Twitter on Saturday.
“People call me out a fair bit and say that I’m making it worse. I’m just bringing the rot to the surface,” he said.
“We know it’s there. It’s just bringing the rubbish behaviour to the surface.”
The New Daily has contacted David Jones for comment.