ST. LOUIS – A white St. Louis woman who lost her job after a video circulated online showing her refusing to let a black tenant inside the building spoke to KTVI Tuesday.
The woman, Hillary Thornton, said the man didn’t have a key fob to get inside and forced his way in the apartment building. She reached out to share her side of the story after being called a racist and receiving death threats.
“When I noticed an individual that I did not know here, my only thought was to follow directions I had been given by condo association board members repeatedly; and that’s to never allow access to anyone that you don’t know,” she said.
Thornton had several emails from the condo association telling residents what to do if they were faced with a situation like this.
Thornton said D'Arreion Toles was trying to get into the building as she had the door cracked as her dog went to the bathroom.
The video shows Thornton asking Toles, “Do you live here?”
“I’ve already answered that question,” Toles replies. “Excuse me.”
Thornton then starts to say, “If you want to come into my building ...”
“It’s not your building, you’re not the owner,” Mr. Toles says as he walks past her. “Excuse me.”
The video shows Thornton following Toles to his front door and asking for his name, even as he puts the key into the lock, but she told KTVI she was just following the rules.
“I simply asked if he lived there because the direction from the association is … that if you don’t know the person, you don’t let them in,” she said.
Thornton said she told him she couldn’t let him in, then asked if he had a key fob. “It’s the only indicator any resident has that they live in the building and he wouldn’t answer me,” she said. “He would not show me one.”
She said that if the man had a fob, he could have used it to get inside and wouldn’t have needed her to let him in the door.
Thornton also said Toles forced his way inside after an altercation at the door that wasn’t caught on video.
“…Because the camera was pointed at the ground and that’s when you hear me say, ‘Oh my God, are you serious?’ and that’s when he says, ‘Go ahead, call police,’” she said.
After the video went viral, Thornton’s employer, Tribeca STL, fired her for racial profiling. They do not own the property where this occurred.
Toles posted video of the altercation on Facebook, writing:
"Downtown St. Louis luxury loft, because she don’t feel that I belong, never really thought this would happen to me, but it did! Then 30 mins later police knock on my door, because she called! I was shocked this is America in 2018!"
The video quickly made national headlines and Facebook users flooded Toles' page with comments. Toles responded thanking people for their support and saying, "don’t bash the women just send her positive waves of energy, and let’s be great people this [is] our world & this message is to everyone of all ages/ races/ colors/! We only get one life so let’s make the most of it & be great, no time for negativity!"
Thornton said she has received death threats and been labeled a racist since the video was shared online.
“That’s false and heartbreaking,” she said. “Those are words that cut deep.”
Thornton, who is still legally married to an African-American man, said she would not change one thing about her actions Friday evening.
Loft resident Lynn Schlosser, who was mugged one year ago near the building’s front door, said she supports Thornton and has prevented people from coming inside in the past.
“I do it all the time,” she said. “The UPS man and Fed Ex (guy) stand there and try to get in, I say I can’t (let them in).”