Video: Jaspreet Singh a Sikh medical student aged 21 was sitting at a Columbus Coffee Cafe at the Auckland Cafe waiting for his professor to discuss his research project he’d been working on.

After 20 minutes of chatting with his professor the police arrived and wanted to take Mr. Singh aside for questioning. However, the Professor refused and argued the policemen were racially discriminating on Mr. Singh. However, with a shocking look on his face, Mr. Singh stepped out to talk to them. The policemen told him they received a phone call from a woman in the same cafe about “some wires sticking out of his bag.”

Photo: RNZ/Mohamed Hassan
Photo: RNZ/Mohamed Hassan

He told local media radionz:

“They took me outside and they explained that someone had called them and said I was doing something with wires in my laptop bag.”

He said his first reaction was to laugh, and the police quickly realized he posed no danger.

“They were quite apologetic because that was quite ridiculous. They were just doing their job.”


Listen to the radio interview: RadioNZ

Jaspreet showed the police the wires from his bags were from his headphones he wore when he entered the coffee shop. The police apologized to Singh and were on their way.

Jaspreet Singh took to social media:

“I think today’s incident was driven by some racial biases, large amounts of ignorance and most importantly, by fear,” he wrote.
“A lot of the things that are happening in the world right now are scary. But we can’t let fear control our lives.”

Local Media Radio NZ Further Reported:

Police spokesperson Scott Leonard confirmed the callout was made yesterday morning.

“Someone saw a male with headphones out… and then put wires into what looked like a transistor radio in a backpack.”
He said police went to the cafe and spoke to the parties involved, but decided there was nothing of concern.

Columbus Coffee general operations manager Peter Webster said the first he heard about the incident was when his marketing manager told him about RNZ’s online report.

He said he was embarrassed about the racial tone of the incident, which was something that had never happened in his shop before.
“We don’t like anything that would imply that any one of our customers is racist; we don’t particularly like that.”

If customers had any concerns about anything happening in the cafe, they should first bring it to the attention of cafe staff, he said.
“I would encourage them with any concern going on in our cafes… of anything suspicious to raise it with the store manager of the cafe, so that they can deal with the problem there and then.”

He said he would be in touch with Mr Singh to apologise.

“Obviously it has nothing to do with any our staff or franchisees, but we don’t like the idea of any of our customers being made embarrassed.”

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