Say What Now? Bed Bath & Beyond Employee Calls Police Over Black Couple's Shopping

What started as a joyous Juneteenth weekend for one couple resulted in massive humiliation and a possible lawsuit for the Ohio residents.

via: Newsweek

Lamar Richards is a John Hopkins University’s graduate and director at the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED). He was shopping with his partner at the Toledo store on June 16 after the two just purchased their first home.

On Twitter, Richards shared the story of how he and his partner were stopped by a Bed Bath & Beyond employee who took items worth over $200 from their cart and held them behind the counter while the two shopped. Only after the couple had spent $600 in the store, Richards said, did police officers on site tell them that staff thought they were shoplifting and had called them to the venue.

“We had no idea the police were there because they were called for us,” Richards tweeted. “I have a Johns Hopkins T-shirt and my boyfriend has on a Michigan College of Pharmacy T-shirt. We literally just wanted to buy some stuff for our new house and THIS is the welcome we get to the area,” he added.

In a statement to Newsweek, Bed Bath & Beyond wrote: “At Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., we take matters of this nature very seriously and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”

The statement added: “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.”

Richards said that, when he and his partner asked the manager and the employee that called the police why they did so, they were told: “it’s our right to call.” Richards added that the manager and staff described the couple to the police as “two Black males.”

While the police told them “you all did nothing wrong,” according to Richards, the couple weren’t given a way to “contact corporate or the district manager” and bring up their case to the top of the housewares giant. Richards filmed an interaction with an employee and a police officer.

Richards said he has “never felt so humiliated” in his entire life. “I sat in the car for more than an hr after this happened, praying asking God to give me peace and calm my anxiety,” he tweeted.

“Imagine that. Purchasing your first home. Excited to begin building generational wealth. And then you visit a @BedBathBeyond store and you’re accused of shoplifting because you ‘had too many high ticket items in your cart,'” he wrote.

“Attempting to purchase a @roborockglobal vacuum resulted in the police being falsely called on two, young Black, gay guys simply shopping. During Juneteenth weekend and Pride Month, no less.”

The housewares giant is navigating some serious financial troubles. At its peak just five years ago, Bed Bath & Beyond—a big box store specializing in home decor, bedding, and bathroom supplies—had more than 1,500 stores in North America. On April 23, the company filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 at the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey, a court filing showed, after struggling to secure enough funds to stay open.

As of May, the company had about 365 stores across the country, as reported by ScrapeHero.

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