The temperature in Winston-Salem, N.C., crested at 90 degrees on July 4 — the same day Jasmine Abhulimen and her son, both African Americans, sought the cool waters of the pool in their private community.
Adam Bloom was there, too, confident in his charge of helping enforce neighborhood rules as the ‘pool chair’ of the Glenridge Homeowners Association. He asked Abhulimen to show identification to prove she belonged. Then he called the police.
And the four of them — two officers, Abhulimen and Bloom — stood outside the pool gate, unsure how the latest incident of police response to public blackness would unfold.
Police had already arrived when Abhulimen began filming the incident in a video she later posted to Facebook under a profile listed as Jasmine Edwards. At the beginning, she tells officers that Bloom walked past other residents at the pool to single her out.
“Nobody else was asked for their ID. I feel this is racial profiling,” Abhulimen says in the video. “I am the only black person here with my son in the pool.”
Bloom’s attorney, John Vermitsky, said in a statement provided to The Washington Post that the pool chair was doing his job by enforcing the rules and has since suffered from the backlash to the video. Sonoco, a South Carolina-based packaging company, said Bloom “is no longer employed by the Company in any respect.” The Glenridge Homeowners Association also accepted Bloom’s resignation.
According to the Winston-Salem Journal, Abhulimen’s attorney Eric Ellison released a statement Friday, declaring the incident a “traumatizing” act of racial profiling. Ellison said that Abhulimen wants to “resolve this in a private manner” with the homeowner’s association so that “similar incidents do not occur in the future.” Ellison’s office did not return a request for the full statement.
The incident unfolded in a leafy, exclusive neighborhood in northwest Winston-Salem. A massive four-bedroom home for sale on Bloom’s street is listed on the real estate website Zillow for more than $400,000. “Great sense of community and perfect for families,” the listing says.
In the video, Abhulimen presses for any regulation to justify Bloom’s call to police — namely, that ID must be carried in a swimsuit. Bloom, keeper of swimming pool regulations, is unable to point to posted regulations that suggest the rule.
A sign on the wall says residents and their guests were allowed and must sign in, but Bloom was unsure if there was a lifeguard on duty to accept sign ins, given the holiday.
But like the black boy mowing a lawn, black men waiting at Starbucks, three black women renting an Airbnb, the black man conducting real estate business, a black woman falling asleep in a Yale common room, and others, Abhulimen was on the receiving end of a burden of proof of belonging that they all say was tailor-made for them because of their race.
So Bloom had a solution. The pool had a key-card entry. Could she prove she had one?
Of course, Abhulimen says. She is in the pool in the first place.
“Am I going to jump over the fence? I’m with a baby,” Abhulimen scoffs. “Am I going to throw the baby over?” She produces the key for the officer. The door clicks open.
The officer is satisfied. “I apologize for the time and the altercation that occurred, okay?” the officer tells Abhulimen. She apologizes for the time the officers spent there.
Bloom, however, is not satisfied. “A form of ID would have been helpful to validate,” he says to the officer.
“It would be nice if you apologized,” Abhulimen shoots back.
The officer went over the same territory — that a key card was good enough for him.
“They kind of make their way around sometimes . . . but that’s good enough for me today,” Bloom says.
“Do you want to apologize, Adam, for what you did?” Abhulimen asks. Bloom said providing the address would have been “fine,” but he ignores the calls for an apology.
Vermitsky, the attorney, alleges in the statement that his client got involved when a female board member, who is not named, approached Bloom saying Abhulimen was not familiar to her, and had allegedly given an address on “a road in the neighborhood where houses were not yet built.”
Because Bloom could not reference the sign-in sheet, he approached Abhulimen, the statement says, and was given what turned out to be her correct address. The ID request, the attorney alleges, was to square the discrepancy in addresses.
Vermitsky said Bloom has removed swimmers from the pool for not having valid membership four times per season over seven years, and those removed have been of varying ages and races. The statement also condemns racism as “abhorrent, wrong and [having] no place in a free country.”
The attorney called the video incomplete and misleading, and said Bloom has received death threats and has relocated his wife and three children to a “safe location.”
The Glenridge Homeowners Association said Thursday in a statement provided to The Post that it accepted Bloom’s resignation as pool chair and board member, effective immediately.
“We sincerely regret that an incident occurred yesterday at our community pool that left neighbors feeling racially profiled,” the association said in its statement.
“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.”
The association added that it would reinstate the sign-in sheet and ensure policies were consistent for all residents.
Vermitsky told the Winston-Salem Journal that Bloom’s resignation did not confirm any wrongdoing.
“I think the situation is unfortunate that conclusions are being reached by people who have seen a 46-second video of their interaction,” Vermitsky told the paper. “He called the police to make sure that the interaction didn’t escalate.”
But Karam Gulkham, a lifeguard manager at the pool, told the Journal that Bloom’s reasoning to involve police, or even to doubt Abhulimen belonged in the pool all the way to the end, was not so clear.
“Apparently it was not enough for him,” Gulkham told the paper. “I don’t know why he felt it wasn’t enough.”