An investigator with the state Attorney General's Office has accused security at Fairview-Riverside Medical Center of racial profiling after he said he was harassed while serving a search warrant receipt last week.
In an interview, Kayseh Magan said that even though he repeatedly identified himself, a white security guard at the hospital in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood still followed him out to his car and demanded to know what he was doing there. Even as he raised his hands to signal he was not resisting, Magan said the guard grabbed his ID hanging from his waist.
"It kind of tells me, doesn't matter what your job title is, it doesn't matter if your job title is investigator, it doesn't matter if your employer is the Minnesota Attorney General's Office: If you're Black you're going to face discrimination," said Magan, who is Somali American. "To law enforcement you're a big Black guy — that's how I appear to the outside world."
In a statement, M Health Fairview spokeswoman Aimee Jordan said the incident resulted from "miscommunication" when Magan went to a hospital entrance where documents were not accepted.
"Despite instruction from onsite security, the individual left the documents at an improper location and began to leave the premises. The security person notified a supervisor of their plans to return the documents to the individual, which required them to exit the building," Jordan said. "Following security protocol, additional security personnel were directed to the location for assistance. After a review of the individual's credentials, they walked to their car and departed."
Surveillance footage Jordan shared with the Star Tribune shows Magan entered the lobby of Masonic Children's Hospital with a document in his hand. He stood in the lobby for several minutes, briefly spoke with a security guard, then stepped outside. He then briefly stepped back inside, dropped the envelope on the desk and left. A woman security guard then picked up the envelope and walked out after him. She's seen following him across the street when they disappear below an overhang where surveillance footage does not capture the encounter.
Magan said that although the woman security guard followed him, it was a male guard involved in the confrontation.
Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement released through a spokesman that everyone "should be able to live and work with dignity and respect."
"This includes my colleagues who work on behalf of all Minnesotans at the Attorney General's Office. I stand with my colleagues who have reason to believe their civil rights were violated," the statement read. "They have the right to make a complaint and I fully support them doing so."
Magan's attorney Zorislav Leyderman said that his client presented his ID when he first walked into the hospital and informed staff that he was serving a search warrant receipt on behalf of the Attorney General's Office. After waiting awhile for someone to pick up the documents, Magan left and was walking to his car when a security guard came running after him and demanded to know who he was, according to Leyderman. He again explained who he was, Leyderman said, but the guard wouldn't listen, instead grabbed his ID and threatened to trespass Magan from the property, jotting down Magan's license plate number as he drove away.
"He had to stand there humiliated, being surrounded by these people while they tried to figure out what to do with him," Leyderman said.
Jordan said in that statement that M Health Fairview is looking into the incident.
"We will and must engage in a continuous cycle of learning and improvement. We have initiated a thorough review of the situation and any evidence that the response by our security personnel was inappropriate will be addressed."
Magan, 31, said the encounter left him so shaken that he couldn't sleep and decided to take several days off work.
"I shouldn't have to have a safety plan for myself to do my job," he said.
Libor Jany • 612-673-4064