Saturday, December 03, 2005

In case you needed one

Another reason to despise the Wall:

A Wal-Mart in Tampa thinks a black guy with a big check has to be a thief:

Pitts, local human resources manager for GAF Materials Corp., called the Wal-Mart Supercenter at 11110 Causeway Blvd. in the morning to order 520 holiday gift cards for employees. The white, female worker who normally did the task was on vacation. The company had spent about $50,000 a year on gift cards at the local Wal-Mart for several years.

Store employees assured him it wouldn't be a problem. The roofing system manufacturer gave Pitts a check for $13,600, and he left to pick up the gift cards.

Pitts, who wore khaki pants and a button-down dress shirt, arrived at the Wal-Mart customer service desk about 1:15 p.m. and found the cards ready.

But first, he was told, managers needed to verify the check.

Pitts gave them his GAF business card, driver's license and numbers to Citibank, GAF's bank. The company's accounting supervisor told Wal-Mart over the phone that the check was good. GAF, based in Wayne, N.J., is the nation's biggest roofing systems maker, with $1.6 billion in 2004 revenue.

At least two black clerks watching the situation told Pitts he was being subjected to such scrutiny because he is black. They told him other companies made similar purchases that day without such interrogations.

Wait! There's more!

Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies arrived, responding to a call from store managers about a possible forged check.

Pitts said one of the officers grabbed his arm, causing him to pull away.

Hey! Doesn't he know that's resisting arrest?

And this isn't the first time, either:

Last summer, Wal-Mart managers at an Eagan, Minn., store accused Gayle Bryant of using a bad check to buy $92.69 worth of bottled water and household goods, news reports said. Managers called police, who waited for her to leave the store and then stopped her for questioning.

Bryant said she was targeted because she is black.

To be fair, of course, this likely is not Wal-Mart policy. This is the racism of Wal-Mart employees -- which is to say, the racism of typical Americans. Nor can the caliber of the average Wal-Mart employee be much, considering what Wal-Mart pays -- anyone who can, moves on as soon as possible, I imagine. Anyone who stays is no doubt angry and looking for someone to take it out on.

Which doesn't excuse anything.

Wal-Mart ought to be educating its employees against racial profiling. For that matter, it ought to be paying its employees enough that they aren't taking their hate out on their customers.

1 comment:

zelda1 said...

What pissed me off about that incident was that not one employee of authority did anything, which makes me think that there is an implied rule somewhere of what kinds of people they think are going to break the law. Sorta like when the police see a black man driving in a new car, must be a drug dealer. I hope that guy slams them with a huge lawsuit, one that will make them remember and do inservices to their employees. Educate them on what constitutes a bad check, not someone with three or four IDs plus a phone number to a bank plus a buisness card. Geeze. I go to Walmart all the time, well not as much as I used to, but when I go, I am never asked for my ID. I write huge checks, well not in the thousands but close to it and never do they ask to see my driver license. A woman in the store commented on it once, she said, "They didn't ask for your license." I said, "I'm a middle ages white woman, people think I'm honest."