UPDATE: 7:45 p.m. ET, March 18 –
Deja Patterson, 24, was one of the women who were racially profiled at a WinCo Foods location in Pittsburgh, California. Patterson was accompanied by her mother, Theresa, and cousin Reem when they were accused of stealing lemons from the grocery store by an employee named Kenny, who claimed to be the store manager.
Patterson spoke of the incident exclusively with Madame Noire, revealing that she and her family “felt targeted.”
“It just felt like so much racism, it just felt like so much racial profiling,” the 24-year-old said when asked why she posted the video to social media, which has since gone viral. “I felt like we were targeted and I don’t want to be targeted ever.”
She continued, “The only that I can ask for is accountability because that is on their property. The correct response I think would be to have Kenny and the other gentleman fired and to have better training going forward because this doesn’t have to happen again.”
Patterson said that Kenny, who is actually a lead clerk at the WinCo location, called the police who met the women in the front of the store. They were denied from purchasing their items following the false accusations. The two male officers who later arrived at the scene, one Black, one white, said that the employee made a citizen’s arrest and that they were complying with the establishment’s policy.
WinCo Foods has not yet respond to Madame Noire regarding the incident.
It wasn’t long before racists’ true colors began to seep out in the midst of the rapid spreading of the coronavirus as people rush to their local supermarkets to obtain necessities in preparation for government suggested quarantines and social distancing. Three Black women in Pittsburgh, California took heed to the precautionary measures that have been suggested and while gathering their cart full of groceries, they were harassed by a racist WinCo supermarket employee, who accused them of stealing lemons.
In a video posted by a woman whose Instagram name is @1novebaby, two women are seen with a shopping cart containing groceries but are being held back by an employee who is reportedly named Kenny, and wouldn’t disclose his last name according to the post, after being accused of stealing.
“Tonight March 16 at WINCO IN PITTSBURG, my mom, cousin & I were RACIALLY PROFILED, FOLLOWED, HARASSED & ASSAULTED by Kenny (who wouldn’t reveal his last name). He approached us and ACCUSED us all of stealing lemons. He then went to assault my mother by pushing her arm AND myself by pushing a shopping cart up against my body and ran over my foot. He then caused a scene in the store and had us escorted out by police for NOTHING AT ALL,” the post said.
In the clip, the women are pushing their cart and the employee looks at the woman recording the incident and says, “At this point, we’re refusing service because you’re trying to steal by switching a product. We’re refusing service, you cannot steal our product.”
The employee moved one of the women’s arms out of the way in order to get to the shopping cart containing the groceries. “We are not selling to you,” he said. “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”
One of the women requested to speak with a manager and was told by the employee, “Yes I am. I am in charge,” adding that he is “refusing service.”
The employee then threatened to call the police, to which the three women told him to proceed in doing so.
Later in the video, the man accused the women of “switching the product to another packaging” from a more expensive item to a less expensive item.
After a security guard for the location approached the scene, one woman explained the situation. “We had that bag,” the woman said of the bag the employee was holding. “There were no more produce bags. We asked the man across from us who is also a worker I don’t know what his name was, we asked him if there were any produce bags, he said no. Then he said, ‘Well, if you go to the back, then you can go get you a bag.’ That’s what we’re doing.”
The woman said the lemons were sitting in their cart and the employee came over and “reached in our cart and took it out and said we’re trying to steal and followed us around the store.”
Another employee stepped up, presumably the worker who assisted the women about the produce bag. “Why did we use that bag? Weren’t you the one back there?” one of the women asked the other worker. She continued, “You told them we were trying to steal? That’s what he said,” referring to the other employee who claimed he was in charge.
The man said the women put large lemons that were 48 cents each in a bag that apparently once contained products but was now empty. The woman clarified that they were only using the empty bag that once contained items because they thought there weren’t any produce bags left.
While the video does not show footage of police arriving at the Winco location, the employee was seen making a call to 911 requesting the police come to the store.
In a separate incident in Australia, two white women – a mother and daughter – physically assault a Black woman over toilet tissue at a Woolworth supermarket, after already having several packs in their shopping cart. “Are you fucking joking?” the Black woman said.
“She hit me!” the Black woman yelled. The mother then accused the woman of touching her daughter, to which the Black woman replied, “I didn’t touch you! I took the bag, you fucking came and hit me!”
The Black woman later said to the woman, “I just want one pack.” The woman replied, “No, not one pack.” The mother and daughter had at least five packs of what appeared to be eight counts of toilet tissue.
A supermarket employee approached the mother and daughter and took the shopping cart. He then called the police. According to IOL, the mother, 60 and the daughter, 23 were “issued court attendance notices for affray.”