A series of videos posted to social media is underscoring the pitfalls of “shopping while Black” with apparent racial profiling in full effect at a Bed, Bath & Beyond location in Ohio. And, of course, there was a “Karen” front and center while starring in the unfortunate footage.
Lamar Richards tweeted videos showing his encounter with a manager of the store in Toledo, where he was shopping with his boyfriend, Austin Greer, and said they spent hundreds of dollars before they had the police called on them for the alleged offense of having “too many high ticket items in our cart.”
Richards said the manager, a white woman, said she had “the right to call” the police because she inexplicably suspected they “were shoplifting” even though the men who were described as “two black guys” had allegedly already spent $600.
Richards told the Daily Beast that he didn’t notice any of the white customers with similar items in their carts being singled out like he said he and Greer were. Richards said he and Greer were there shopping specifically because “everything was 60% off” since the company is closing hundreds of stores after filing for bankruptcy in April.
“I have a Johns Hopkins T-shirt and my boyfriend has on a Michigan College of Pharmacy T-shirt,” Richards tweeted. “We literally just wanted to buy some stuff for our new house and THIS is the welcome we get to the area.”
Richards said once the police arrived, they determined that he and his boyfriend “did nothing wrong.”
The manager attempted to whitesplain what had happened as being routine, but Richards disputed her claim by asking why Bed, Bath & Beyond even sells so-called “high ticket items” if “when someone attempts to purchase them you call the police???”
Richards said he has “never felt so humiliated in my entire life.”
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump announced Thursday that he had been retained by Richards and his boyfriend. Crump demanded accountability for the apparent display of racial profiling.
“It is outrageous that this innocent Black couple had biased assumptions made about them by Bed, Bath & Beyond employees and were immediately profiled as criminals, when they were simply trying to shop for items for their new home. This appears to be an appalling case of ‘shopping while Black,’” Crump said in a statement emailed to NewsOne.
“Lamar and Austin deserve the same respect and opportunity to exist without being harassed as anyone else. Lamar has often challenged the odds to earn respect, including when he paved the way for so many by serving as the first Black and openly gay student body president at the University of North Carolina. Unfortunately, this is a story that resonates with many Black and LGBTQ+ Americans, but that will not stop us from pushing back on the hate and bigotry that Lamar and Austin endured and captured on video.”
Bed, Bath & Beyond told the Daily Beast that it takes “matters of this nature very seriously and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind.” The company, however, did not mention anything about the so-called “high ticket items” that supposedly compelled the “Karen” manager to contact the police.
“We are deeply concerned about the reported incident and are actively looking into the matter, as we do with any incidents described that are inconsistent with our policies and procedures,” Bed, Bath & Beyond added.
This is America.
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