BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman said she was denied purchasing cigarettes at a gas station in Boulder because her ID was from Puerto Rico. On Feb. 21, Ruth Caraballo said she stopped at a Circle K in Boulder to get gas and cigarettes.
“I give her my ID,” Caraballo told CBS4. “When she saw that it was Puerto Rico driver’s license, she said she cannot accept the ID. It has to be a U.S. ID.”
Caraballo said she lived in Denver for 10 years, but now lives back home in Puerto Rico. She was in town visiting her boyfriend.
“I told her Puerto Rico is part of the United States,” Caraballo explained. “We are citizens and this is a U.S. ID, and she told me, ‘No.’”
Caraballo said she left the store and called the Boulder Police Department to help clear things up. CBS4 obtained video from the officer’s body camera as she went to talk to the store manager.
“We don’t take Puerto Rico,” you can hear the clerk explain. “We take U.S. ID, U.S State ID, U.S. passport and U.S. military ID. Those are the four things Circle K takes.”
“Well she felt this is inappropriate because Puerto Rico is part of U.S. territory,” you hear the officer explain.
“But it’s not a U.S. issued ID though, that’s the problem,” the clerk said.
“Well, it’s valid, I ran it,” the officer responds.
“It was discrimination,” Caraballo said. “I walked inside the store speaking Spanish. She denied to use the ID even when the police told them that it’s legal.”
Caraballo said all she’s looking for is an apology from the company. She told CBS4 she has reached out to Circle K’s corporate office multiple times, with no response. Her family has now hired an attorney.
“Right now, we wanted to send out the message to the community as to what’s going on,” explained Mike Litman, with Litman Law Firm in Denver. “It (the video) clearly shows how the clerk was adamant in violating the rights of Ms. Caraballo.”
Caraballo says she hopes sharing her story will help to inform others, and make sure this situation doesn’t happen to someone else.
“We are citizens,” she said. “So we don’t have to be treated like this.”
CBS4 has reached out to Circle K for comment on their policy and the situation, but was told no employees can talk about what happened. The company’s corporate office has not answered the request for comment either.