The lead singer of an iconic Motown music group has accused a Detroit-area hospital for racial discrimination after he revealed his celebrity status to employees—and they responded by putting him in a straightjacket.
Rather than taking the Four Tops’ Alexander Morris’ identity seriously, hospital workers allegedly restrained the musician and told him to “sit his Black ass down.”
“They thought I was delusional,” Morris, who is Black, told Fox 2 Detroit. “I believe that it was initiated by racism.”
According to local outlet ABC 7 Detroit, Morris took an ambulance to Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital after experiencing chest pains on April 7. Due to safety issues he’d had in the past, Morris attempted to explain who he was to hospital staff, The Detroit News reported, but he said they did not believe anything he had to say and refused to see his proof of identity.
Morris had been performing as the lead singer of the Four Tops since 2019. The R&B group formed in the 1950s and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
“They racially profiled [Morris] and thought he was lying,” said attorney Maurice Davis, according to The Detroit News. “They thought he was mentally ill instead of a successful Black man and they placed him in a straightjacket.”
Morris said he felt he was mistreated because of his race.
“It doesn’t matter if I’m successful or not, because I’m Black,” he said, according to ABC 7. “Automatically I’m discarded. Automatically I’m worthless.”
Davis added that the ordeal had “an element of false imprisonment” because Morris was kept from leaving after being put in the straightjacket for a psychological evaluation.
“The head of security told him to sit his Black ass down,” Davis said, according to Fox 2. “They wouldn’t let him leave. …[Morris] said, ‘OK, I’ll seek care elsewhere;’ they refused and said he’s not going anywhere.”
Click on Detroit reported the musician was restrained for about an hour.
“He was treated like a mental patient instead of the successful Black man that he is,” Davis said.
Morris was finally able to prove who he was once his wife arrived at the hospital, according to Click on Detroit, and was offered an apology in the form of a $25 gift card to a regional grocery store. Regardless, Morris plans to sue Ascension Hospital for racial profiling and discrimination.
On Tuesday, the hospital released a statement, saying it does “not condone racial discrimination of any kind.”
“The health, safety and well-being of our patients, associates and community members remains our top priority,” the statement said. “We remain committed to honoring human dignity and acting with integrity and compassion for all persons and the community.”
But according to ABC 7, Morris was appalled that his life was seemingly just worth $25.
“There’s no way for me to get that out of my mind,” he said.