In today’s episode of White Privilege Gone Wild, white store clerks in Austin County, Texas, were seen on camera attacking a 65-year-old Black woman who had found a $50 bill on the floor and tried to walk out of the store with it. The clerks were all reportedly fired, but only one woman was arrested behind the incident—a Black relative who came to the elderly woman’s aid.
“I told the cashier, look here, my lucky day!” the victim, Betty Smith, told Fox 26 Houston in reference to the money she found on Jan. 15 at Lindemann Grocery Store in the town of Industry. “The woman at the counter says, ‘Oh no, you can’t leave with that…that might be my friend’s money. He was in here earlier.'”
First of all, how would the clerk know who “might” have lost their money in the store? And even if the clerk’s friend had lost the money, it’s not like we’re talking about a suitcase full of cash or someone’s rent money in an envelope. We’re talking about a single 50 spot left on the ground. That’s definitely a “finder’s keepers” situation. Either way, nothing gives a store employee the right to police a woman who got lucky and found money on the floor.
From Fox 26:
Smith says she was the only customer in the store at the time. As she proceeded to check out, she tells FOX 26 the clerks would not let her purchase the desserts.
Surveillance video shows Smith trying to leave the business, as clerks stop her at the door.
“They went to the door and locked me in,” says Smith.
The video shows one female clerk ripping the money out of her hand. As she tries to get it back, another female employee and a male employee shove and restrain her.
“I was scared to death,” says Smith.
She also says the woman used racial slurs while telling her she was not allowed to leave. Her son, who has special needs, was outside in the car during the altercation.
As much as the behavior of the store employees pisses me off—including the allegations of racial slurs, which I have no problem believing because if you’re willing to manhandle a Black female senior citizen over $50 that doesn’t even belong to you, you’re probably racist—it’s really the police that truly infuriates me.
More from Fox 26:
Smith then calls her granddaughter, Dezteni Cyrus, on her cell phone to help.
“She was frantic,” says Cyrus. “I rushed out of the shower and put on a robe. They wouldn’t let her out. She’s a diabetic. I could see where her feet were bothering her…her shoes were across from her…I said, ‘y’all have to let her out!'”
That’s when the video shows an Austin County Sheriff’s Deputy, who the family says was called by the store clerks, handcuff Cyrus.
Her mother shows up minutes later and was handcuffed and arrested for allegedly assaulting one of the employees during the altercation.
So, let’s do a quick recap:
Despite the fact that there is clear video surveillance that shows white store employees physically attacking an elderly Black woman and preventing her from leaving the store (which sounds like kidnapping to me, especially if it’s true that they locked her in), none of the clerks were arrested or even handcuffed. But the granddaughter who tried to help her grandmother was handcuffed, and her mother was handcuffed and arrested because she allegedly assaulted one of the clerks who, presumably, was one of the employees involved in the recorded attack on Smith.
Sounds to me like cops took the white aggressors’ claims at face value and decided the Black women must have been the problem. In fact, according to the family, the cops took statements from the store employees but did not allow the three women to tell their side of the story.
Sheriff Jack Brandes released the following statement to FOX 26, which, of course, characterizes one of the store employees as “a victim”:
On January 15, 2023, at approximately 7:05 p.m., the Austin County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Lindemann Store in Industry, Texas for a disturbance in progress. Deputies arrived and conducted an investigation in to the cause of the disturbance. One subject was arrested at the scene who was not initially involved in the original disturbance, but who walked in to the scene later and assaulted a victim. This secondary assault was captured on camera as well. Currently, the statements, videos, body-worn camera video, and all evidence collected has been forwarded to the Austin County District Attorney for consideration of potential charges against various individuals.
Meanwhile, the manager at Lindemann Grocery Store appears to have done more to hold the employees accountable than the cops were willing to. The manager told Fox 23 that all three employees involved were fired the day after the incident and that he and the store owner apologized to Smith, which Smith confirmed.
“They offered to help pay bond money and offered to give me the $50 bill, and any support I needed, but I didn’t want it,” she said.
“I feel like when things quiet down, the same thing is going to happen to me again,” Smith continued, adding that she has no plans to ever return to the store.
Unfortunately for the store managers who tried to make things right, Smith’s story has gone public and drawn the attention of protesters, including Houston activist Quanell X, and some are calling for the store to be boycotted. Fortunately, they’re also calling for the arresting officers to be held accountable.
Hopefully, this story continues to gain attention. This is how we expose white privilege in America.