By Makenzie O'Keefe

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.

(credit: CBS)

“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.’”

(credit: CBS)

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.”

Ruth Caraballo (credit: CBS)

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.

Makenzie O'Keefe

Comments (2)
  1. somsai says:

    Convenience store clerks can’t be expected to know this kind of thing, but I guess the objective was to get all offended and make a stink and maybe get some money, Good luck with that.

  2. Jose says:

    I’m from Puerto Rico living in CO since 1998 and I know how these things go. Once I was asked what the exchange rate of the Puerto Rican peso to the dollars was. My answer then was four coconuts or eight bananas to the dollar. Forgot to mention, Puerto Rico as any other U.S. jurisdiction uses the U.S. dollar and all banks are part of the federal reserve system.

    Ignorance have no boundaries. It shows the level of knowledge the attendant has about the U.S. Everyone born in Puerto Rico is an American and an ID issued in Puerto Rico is an ID issued in the U.S. Puerto Rico is not a foreign country. Not that we should expect much about a gas station attendance anyway. I will give the attendant the benefit of the doubt about the possible racial bias and I will assume the person is just ignorant about the country he lives in. The company should apologize if not for the impression of racial bias from an employee, it should apologize for hiring ignorant people in a customer facing position.

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