Cardboard Box apologizes for ‘unjustly targeting’ black woman

Security mistakes real ID for a fake, police are called to the scene.

The Cardboard Box has issued an apology after a black woman was accused of using a fake ID.

The Cardboard Box in Oak Bluffs has issued a public apology following an incident this week when a bouncer allegedly accused a Black woman of using a fake ID, even though the ID was real.

The incident was detailed in a TikTok video that has since gone viral.

The TikTok video, which was posted on Wednesday by @tiktoksbyalexa detailed the incident. 

The woman said she and her friends attempted to go to the Cardboard Box Tuesday night, but were stopped by a bouncer who said one of the friend’s IDs was fake.

“Instead of just running the ID like a normal person, he calls the cops to run it,” she said in the video, adding that the police officer warned her if the ID was fake she would be ticketed. After running the ID through a machine and seeing it was a real ID, the bouncer continued to insist the ID was fake.

“To make matters worse, all the palm colored people were instigating the situation. Definitely leaving a terrible review,” she said in the video.

On Friday, the woman who posted the TikTok video said she was emailed an apology by the restaurant owners. “I passed it on to my friend, and she just said she would like to move on from this whole experience. With that being said, this whole experience was an unfortunate lesson for everyone involved,” she wrote in the video’s comments section. She said she would be removing the video.

The video has garnered over 21,000 views, and 500 comments. Many comments deride the restaurant. The Cardboard Box responded to several comments detailing their attempts to contact the woman.

The woman who posted the video could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a post on Instagram, the restaurant summarized the video and said the woman whose ID was in question was treated with “disrespect, though she had done absolutely nothing wrong, when our security continued to insist that the ID was fake.”

The post went on to apologize for the incident. “To begin, we unequivocally and without reservation apologize to the young women who were treated poorly at our establishment. A personal apology has been given, but we realize that a public apology is also called for,” the post says in part. “We also apologize for failing to be sure that all our staff is educated about what is appropriate, especially in incidents involving Black people, who are so often unjustly targeted both by law enforcement and those seeking to weaponize law enforcement against marginalized people.”

In a phone conversation with The Times, Cardboard Box owner Ben DeForest said the restaurant wanted to craft an appropriate response while understanding the incident. “We are certainly very regretful and apologetic for how this young lady was treated, and we’re going to have our staff further educated and our security staff further educated,” DeForest said.

He added that his wife, Erica DeForest, reached out to the women involved in the incident. DeForest also tried to comment on a Facebook post, but comments on the post were turned off.

“We’re grateful there’s seemingly some healing going on and some understanding,” Ben DeForest said. “To sort of have to gain all the information we can gather about it post-incident is a challenge, but we did the best that we could. We have taken the time to hear everybody and understand we have to make some changes with procedures to getting into the bar. It’s our commitment for our staff to be educated and to truly do better.”

Security for Cardboard Box is done by Offshore Kinetics MV, a training and security consulting company. DeForest said he spoke with Offshore Kinetics owner Michael Blake to work on training his employees on how he sees fit.

“He is an African American man, he is a security professional, he is a veteran, and the person who checked the ID is not Caucasian, so we will see what Mike’s determination is,” DeForest said.

In a phone call with The Times, Michael Blake, who is from the Island, said he was not on shift the night of the incident.

“The young man who scrutinized this young lady’s ID I guess identified some anomalies and as per our standard operating procedure, he got the assistance of the Oak Bluffs Police Department,” Blake said. “If the young lady felt like she was profiled, if the speech indicated something that alluded to that, we obviously apologize for that. We definitely don’t want anyone to feel that way.”

He added that two to three IDs are called in every weekend during the busy summer months. “I’m aware of the anti-police sentiment, and I am aware of communities who are having that challenge, and obviously we don’t want to perpetuate that,” he said. 

Blake, who also works in Miami, said he understood that people from off-Island, particularly big cities, may have issues with police relations. He said having police called for something like an ID check is more common on the Island.

Oak Bluffs Police Chief Erik Blake told The Times in a text message he had not yet read the police report, but was aware of the incident. 

“The Island is not immune from the issues of the world. We have been getting reports from all over the Island of the front-of-the-house staff needing to improve how they treat patrons of color. This is not an issue that is unique to Cardboard Box. I look forward to working with Ben Deforest and his team in scheduling cultural sensitivity training for restaurants. Much like staff must go through ServSafe training, it would be a good idea for employers to insist that their employees go through cultural sensitivity training,” Martha’s Vineyard’s NAACP chapter president Arthur Hardy-Doubleday wrote in an email statement to The Times. “I look forward to working with Mr. Deforest and other Island restaurants on coordinating this training for late spring next year. Mr. Deforest is committed to social justice, and I know he will do a great job leading the charge on coordinating this needed training.”



  1. The disproportionate profiling of persons of color is well documented and understood. This occurrence, and the recently reported incident at a Chilmark camp, remind us that discussion and education must be ongoing. Racism in any form just cannot be tolerated.
    However – to suggest that ANY incident involving security/law enforcement and a person of color is necessarily an example of ‘unjust targeting’ seems unfair – although admittedly I’ve not seen the video – the fact that the security employee involved is non-caucasian should at least raise the possibility that racism was not at play here. If the proportion of such ID-related calls is shown to support unfair targeting, by all means, ‘cancel’ your reservations. But let’s not trash an established business and delegiimize the ongoing problem of racism at every possible opportunity.
    To the woman involved in this incident – I’m sorry that you felt targeted due to the color of your skin. This island has historically been a place of tolerance. Whether the actual event was motivated by your skin color or not, the fact that you believed it to be so, reminds us of how much more we must do to combat racial intolerance.
    To the business owners and security personnel – a painful reminder that education is an ongoing process, and we’ve far to go in this process.

  2. The headline changed. Are we using “unjustly targeting a black woman” as better than calling out that this is how systemic racism works? Also changed is the first paragraph sentence calling this Cardboard Box fiasco a “racial incident”. Why?

    I was going to comment last night, before the changes, but didn’t have a chance. Are we becoming afraid of calling racial incidents, “racial incidents”? I am asking in the context of still not knowing the outcome to the investigation of the racial incident at the Chilmark Community Center Day Camp– the racial incident where two 8-9 year old white boys put a tent strap around the neck of a Black 8 year old boy, causing an abrasion to his neck. Last I heard, the investigation was looking into whether this racial incident was a racial incident, or instead if it should be categorized under “safe play” issues. Also, from a chilmark selectboard meeting last Tuesday, this newspaper reported that the results of the investigation report on this Chilmark racial incident, now called a “strap incident,” or simply, “the incident,” would be “due in few days”. Any news on this Chilmark racial incident? Also, are we still pretending there’s no such thing as systemic racism on Martha’s Vineyard?

    • More information became available that gave us pause on the initial headline. The security company employee is non-caucasian. So we thought it best to keep the headline to what the Cardboard Box apologized for. This remains a developing story and we will continue to pursue new information and report it as it becomes available.

  3. Is it possible the guy simply didnt trust the ID and color had nothing to do with it.? Is that possible? No you say–its not possible.

    • Andrew– I have to agree with you on this one. Security at the cardboard likely checks the id of 300 people every weekend night in order to get into their nightly “super spreader events “. Many of them are people of color.
      According to the article 2 or 3 ID’s are called in every weekend.
      So security calls in the ID of a black woman, and suddenly it’s a racial incident ?
      I really really really hate to agree with Andy, but this is ridiculous.

      • I came to visit some friends a few weeks ago and we visit this place. As a black man from NYC I have to admit, I had the time of my life! Their security team is very professional.

    • it’s 100% and totally plausible, but it’s 2021 and we are living in a world where common sense will get you in trouble.

      • Mike, the lack of common sense is on the part of the bouncer. I don’t know if this was a racial incident, but security refused to let it go. That is unjustified. Why bother to call in police at all if they’re not going to accept that the ID was determined to be valid? There is no good answer for that.

  4. Color very possibly (but not necessarily definitely), didn’t have anything to do with it, considering that the bouncer was a black man. However, once the police validated the ID, why was he still arguing? Who did he want to call in next, the FBI?

    • Was the bouncer Black or a POC? Not necessarily the same thing, and PLENTY of anti-Black racism exists throughout POC communities.

      • Exactly! “POC” is a qualifying term, not unifying. PLENTY of anti-Blackness and bias exists in in communities of color. People are so quick to dismiss things when it is mot their lived experience. Its the lack of compassion and empathy, that will keep racism and bigotry alive.

  5. Once the police validated the young ladies ID the incident should have ended with apologies. Period. Whatever power trip the bouncer was on to continue the situation says he is not needed in this job.

  6. Oh please.. bs profiling my ass. I know the security company, and they’re a black owned business to begin with. They have to go through hundreds and hundreds of ID’s, from all over the country. This lady is just looking for clout, and fame.

  7. We will soon find out that the Chilmark strap incident was simply 8 year olds doing dumb things and color had nothing to do with it. To accuse 8 year olds of being racist is a bit premature.

    • Andrew are you “teasing” here? The race training card is played very early and most often at home and at school. As humans we learn about 80% of all that we will know in a lifetime by age three (yeah, true . . . Google it). Sometimes it is subtle and more often than not it is not so subtle. Parents and playmates use language that is racially loaded. Kids’ most powerful learning models are their parents and the kids they play with.

      • Gil Williams, I see all manner of misbehavior in young children but racism is not one of them. Yes, children do learn from their parents but then you are assuming most people are racist. I do not.

        • Andy–you say “we will soon find out ”
          You have been saying that about nearly everything for years– and guess what ? we don’t find out, and if we do, we find out you are wrong… like your comment last year that we will not have 1,000 covid deaths in the us… not even close -or Tesla will be bankrupt by march 2021, or blah blah blah .
          I am not saying that this incident was racially motivated, and I don’t assume “most people are racist” as you accuse Gil of thinking— I don’t see anything from Gill “assuming” that ‘most people are racist” where do you come off saying that kind of claptrap ? That’s just another lie, Andie– but some people are actually racist — can you agree with that statement ?
          And parents pass racism on to their kids..

          • Keller if you can read a blance sheet and I dont think you can you will see that Tesla doesnt make money selling cars. It made 1.6 billion last year selling regulatory credits so with its profit of 720million it actually has a net loss. As for Tesla it is structurally bankrupt and is sustaining itself off capital raises which are unsustainable. Yes I think Tesla is a house of Cards. Yes I was wrong on the Covid cases but on everything else I am always correct.(lol) As for Gil and racism, he implied racism when I suggested it might not be and he continued to tell us that parents teach their kids and they learn by age 3. Yes some people are racist but this is not a racist country and systemic racism is a lie.

        • The very first time I was called the N word and spat upon was in 3rd grade after we moved to a small town in Connecticut. Those were my 8 year old classmates, who’d just met me. I was the new (only) Black kid. Tell me again how children do not engage in racism?

  8. What am I missing?
    Where does it say the ID check was an issue of color?
    I listen to my scanner on a regular basis.
    I frequently here police being called on ID concerns. Are those all race related incidents?

  9. What will the owners do to make sure this won’t happen again? The story doesn’t talk much about the bouncer. Fired? Still on the job to harass others? Is there a pattern of hasseling Black people over IDs?

Comments are closed.