WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A white man who challenged a black family's use of a private community's pool has not only resigned from a homeowner's association board -- he also lost his job. Sonoco announced Friday that Adam Bloom is no longer employed by the packaging and industrial products company, saying it doesn't condone discrimination of any kind, even if it happens outside its workplace.
A video posted on the Facebook page of Jasmine Edwards on July 4, seen more than four million times, shows what happened after Bloom questioned whether she was allowed to be at the pool in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He also called police.
Bloom, Edwards and the responding officers all speak in measured tones in the video. She accuses him of singling out her and her young son as African-Americans by asking to see her ID. Bloom, who served as the chairman of the pool, responds that he asks residents to see their identification "a couple times" each week.
Officers then determined that Edwards, who lives in the neighborhood, did in fact have keycard access to the gated pool. An officer then apologized to her. When Edwards asked Bloom for an apology, he walked away.
"This is a classic case of racial profiling in my half a million $$ neighborhood pool. This happened to me and my baby today. What a shame," Edwards wrote on Facebook. "Racial profiling at its worst!"
The social media backlash was fierce, and soon targeted Bloom's employer. In a Twitter post, South Carolina-based Sonoco apologized to Edwards and said the situation doesn't reflect company values.
Company spokesman Brian Risinger confirmed that Bloom's separation was "effective immediately." Risinger said Bloom was a business development manager who had been with Sonoco for about five years.
An attorney for Bloom told the Winston-Salem Journal he was simply performing his duties as a neighborhood official after another woman approached Bloom questioning whether Edwards had the right to be poolside. Lawyer John Vermitsky said his client called police to "make sure that the interaction didn't escalate," and said it's "unfortunate that conclusions are being reached by people who have seen a 46-second video of their interaction."
Vermitsky said Friday that Bloom had to leave his North Carolina house after receiving death threats. Vermitsky issued a statement Friday on behalf of Bloom, and said his client had to take his wife and children away from their home to a safe location.
In Bloom's seven years as chairman of the neighborhood pool, he's occasionally had to ask people of all ages and races to leave for violating pool rules, according to the statement. Vermitsky also said his client feels terrible about the situation and didn't intend to discriminate against the woman.
The Glenridge Homeowners Association said Thursday afternoon that Bloom resigned as the pool's chairman and association board member.
"We sincerely regret that an incident occurred yesterday at our community pool that left neighbors feeling racially profiled," the association statement said. "In confronting and calling the police on one of our neighbors, the pool chair escalated a situation in a way that does not reflect the inclusive values Glenridge seeks to uphold as a community."
Vermitsky said Bloom resigned from his neighborhood positions to limit negative publicity, and not because he did anything wrong.
Police Chief Catrina Thompson has warned that her officers "will not be used as pawns to further someone's dislike for anyone."