Flossmoor resident, D161 board member, asked to leave Kentucky hotel amid controversy

Carolyn Griggs believes she and her family were treated unfairly when they were escorted from a hotel by police last weekend in Kentucky.
 
Griggs and her family were staying at the Towneplace Suites Marriott in Richmond, Kentucky, during her son’s baseball tournament. 
 
  Carolyn Griggs
Griggs, a Flossmoor resident, is a member of the Flossmoor School District 161 board of education and associate professor and department chair of the Department of Teaching, Learning and Diversity at Concordia University Chicago. 

The family had been at the hotel for two days when they were asked to change rooms. The hotel said it had accidently booked them in a room that was scheduled for maintenance to its sprinkler system.
 
Griggs said she asked if the family could be compensated for the inconvenience. The hotel staff said they’d ask the manager and Carolyn Griggs said she and her kids began to move their things to the other room while her husband, Stan, went to speak with the manager. 
 
“(The manager) told me that he made the decision that only one night would be comped and that was it,” Stan Griggs said. “I said if that’s your final decision, that’s perfectly fine.”
 
At that point, Carolyn Griggs also spoke to the manager, who she said told her she could either change rooms or leave the hotel. She persisted and the manager said he would call the police. She went back to her room to call Marriott customer service.
 
“The police said we have to leave the premises,” Griggs said. “I asked why and the manager said ‘I don’t have a reason. I don’t have to tell you why.’”  
 
Several players from the baseball team and their parents were walking by, getting ready to leave for the next game. They helped the Griggs family move their things to the car.
 
“I’ve never been this humiliated and in front of my kids. I’m just trying to keep them calm and get them out of the room,” she said. “My one son said to me, 'When Dad asked why we were being asked to leave, the police officers unfurled their arms and put their hands near their weapons.' I think, for him, that was the moment that he felt like this could turn into something completely different.”
 
Lizzie Bailey, whose son plays on the same baseball team, said she rode the elevator to the second floor with police on their way to Griggs’ hotel room.
 
“They were the only black family in the hotel at that time,” Bailey said. “I don’t want to say that’s what it was, but it couldn’t have been anything else but that, to me.” 
 
A Facebook post Griggs made about the incident had 282 reactions, 228 comments and 117 shares as of Monday afternoon. Many of the comments supported Griggs but many also attacked her, accusing her of “playing the race card.”
 
“I have to be able to point to something,” Griggs said. “We were not being disrespectful. We weren’t being rude. We weren’t loud. Any video or phone call, should those ever be obtained, will show that.
 
“What else can it be?”
 
Towneplace Suites Marriott released a statement on Facebook which has since been deleted. In it, the hotel denied that the incident was “racially motivated” and said the family had to be split up because there were six people in a room meant for four. 
 
Griggs said she called the week before she checked in to make sure that the room was large enough for six people. When she was discussing changing rooms with hotel staff, Griggs said the manager told her the six family members were eating more food for the complimentary breakfast than was allowed for a four-person room.
 
“It just wasn’t right,” Bailey said. “It was just plain as day.”
 
Griggs finished the post with “#livingwhileblack #disappointed.”

“It makes me so happy that I live in Flossmoor,” Griggs said. “I think part of this is that I live in this bubble in Flossmoor, this great, great place where diversity is embraced. We’re like a big family. It was so shocking to be treated any differently. 
 
“I appreciate Flossmoor so much more than I ever have through this experience.”
 
Marriott’s corporate office released a statement. 

“We sincerely apologize for what the family experienced and have been in touch with them directly,” the statement read. “We strive to always create an environment that is welcoming and respectful and deeply apologize that this is not what the family experienced during their stay.”

Griggs said she has been in contact with a Marriott representative and was told she won’t be charged for her stay. The representative plans to follow up with her.
 
The Towneplace Suites manager did not return a request for comment over social media Monday.
 

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