Police in suburban St. Louis are conducting an internal investigation after 10 black college students were falsely accused of leaving an IHOP restaurant without paying for their meal, the Associated Press reports. The students are incoming freshmen at Washington University in St. Louis.
After the manager of an IHOP in Clayton, Missouri, called police to report a group of “young black men” had dined without paying, two City of Clayton Police Department officers reportedly escorted the group back to the restaurant. The students were walking to a transit station when they were stopped by officers, and some showed police receipts for their meal, per the AP. The manager informed the officers none of the students were among the diners who allegedly skipped out on their bill.
The events transpired on July 8. Clayton Police Chief Kevin Murphy tells the AP an investigation was launched after parents of the students complained to the police department, but Murphy says he is “not sure how you handle the situation differently when you’re called for service.” Washington University is backing the students. Jill Friedman, the school’s vice chancellor for public affairs, tells the AP, “It is extremely disappointing that they have been so seriously let down, even before the official start of their first semester.”
An IHOP spokesperson tells the local CBS affiliate in St. Louis “discrimination of any kind is not tolerated” at the chain’s restaurants.