Security guard fired after he denied a woman wearing a keffiyeh entry to a St. Clair College building

A screen shot of the video posted to social media by Hamilton MPP Sara Jama on Wednesday. (Sara Jama/X - image credit)
A screen shot of the video posted to social media by Hamilton MPP Sara Jama on Wednesday. (Sara Jama/X - image credit)

A security guard who was recorded denying a woman wearing a keffiyeh entry to a St. Clair College building has been terminated from his job, according to the security company he worked with.

In the video, the guard can be heard telling a woman she was not allowed to enter a building because she was wearing a keffiyeh — a checkered scarf typically worn in Arab cultures that has come to symbolize solidarity with Palestinians.

The video was shared on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter, by independent Hamilton MPP Sarah Jama, who was kicked out of the provincial legislature in April for wearing the scarf.

She called it a "shocking example of anti-Palestinian racism in Windsor."

In a statement on Wednesday, St. Clair College's vice president John Fairley said once the college learned about the incident, it immediately addressed its concerns to Paladin Security, which says it resolved the issue.

"It was a very unfortunate situation that happened after hours at our St. Clair College Centre for the Arts," Fairley wrote in the statement.

"It does not represent the values or policies of St. Clair College."

'We do not condone this behaviour': security company

On Thursday a spokesperson for Paladin Security said as soon as they were made aware of the incident, the guard in question was fired.

"The individual employee's conduct does not represent the values or policies of Paladin," communication manager Christina Heydanus said in an email to CBC News.

"We do not condone this behaviour, and we immediately took steps to address this issue, including terminating the individual employee. We also immediately reached out to the affected individual to apologize."

Heydanus said the incident happened on the night of May 16.

The social media clip is 22 seconds and appears to show an encounter between someone seeking access to a building and a security guard.

The video begins with the guard saying, "The scarf — you're not coming in."

"I'm not coming in because I'm wearing the scarf?" says a woman who appears off camera.

"The scarf. I know what it means. You're not allowed in here," the guard says. His face is blurred in the video.

"So I can't check up if my friend is in the bathroom because I'm wearing a keffiyeh?" she said.

"Right," the guard said.

The wearing of the keffiyeh has been an issue in the Ontario legislature.

Speaker Ted Arnott concluded earlier this year that the keffiyeh is being worn to make an overt political statement, which is against the rules of the legislature. That led him to prohibit people from wearing the scarf inside the legislature. This was later loosened, allowing politicians, staff and visitors to enter the building while wearing a keffiyeh, while maintaining a prohibition inside the legislative chamber.

The University of Windsor group Racialized Academics and Advocates Centering Equity and Solidarity says the woman heard in the video is a Palestinian UWindsor student and the incident took place on May 15.

The group wrote that the guard's actions suggests "an assumption that the keffiyeh is a symbol of terrorism and that anyone who dons it must be associated with violence and extremism."

A group has been camping at a UWindsor campus since May 10, calling on the university to divest from any investments benefiting Israel, take a stance on the war and other steps.

Similar protests are happening at schools in North America.