A Massachusetts woman is speaking out after she says her mother was on the receiving end of a disgustingly racist outburst by a grocery store shopper who vandalized their car, then assaulted her mother with a shopping cart.
Corie Blaine, 24, detailed the harrowing incident in a Facebook post earlier this month, saying the drama unfolded when her mother took the parking spot the woman had been eyeing before heading in to shop at the Market Basket grocer in Brockton.
“TODAY my mother was in Market Basket and this woman told my mother to “go back to Africa n—-r!’ ” she wrote of the Feb. 1 encounter.
Blaine’s mother, Lola Jean-Baptiste, said she had just parked her car outside the store when all of the sudden she heard someone yelling and honking their horn at her. That’s when she spotted a woman in a car who had stopped behind her Mercedes-Benz, spewing racial slurs and plenty of f-bombs.
“She said, ‘You don’t belong here, go back to Africa where you come from, f—— n—–,’” Jean-Baptiste told The Enterprise, who first reported the incident. “As soon as she started talking like that, I ran into Market Basket.”
The 58-year-old figured she was safe once inside the store but found herself confronted by the enraged woman just a few minutes later. The woman, whom Brockton Police describe as a white brunette in her 50s, continued hurling racial slurs at Jean-Baptiste and threatened to report her to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Jean-Baptiste, a Haitian immigrant who gained her U.S. citizenship in the 1990s, said she could hardly believe her ears as her attacker shouted “[N-word], I just f—-d up your car,’ ” before ramming a shopping cart into her legs repeatedly.
“[The woman] said, ‘I’m taking your picture to send to ICE.’ I said, ‘What did you do?’ ” Jean-Baptiste recalled. She was scrambling to get a few photos of her own when the woman hit her with the cart, causing her to drop her cellphone.
Jean-Baptiste said when she went to pick it up from inside the woman’s cart, the woman began yelling, “Help, help!”
Two Market Basket managers offered to escort Jean-Baptise to pay for her things and exit the store. When she returned to the parking lot, she found that her Benz had been keyed, with scratch marks all over the hood and driver’s side door, she told the newspaper.
Meanwhile, Jean-Baptise said the woman and a male companion were allowed to finish their shopping without incident, and said the store allowed them to leave without taking down their license plate number as promised. She told Yahoo News that employees also refused to interview a witness named Joseph.
Jean-Baptiste later filed an incident report with the police, which detailed one offense of malicious damage of property under $1,200. The report doesn’t mention the racist language reportedly used by the woman, however.
David McLean, operations manager for Market Basket, told The Enterprise that the store has turned over all security video and identifying information about the assailant, including a card she gave her male companion to buy groceries, to Brockton police. McLean defended the actions of the Market Basket managers who intervened during the dispute, saying they didn’t know the entire context of the incident at the time and that the suspect had left the store before Jean-Baptiste realized her car was vandalized.
“There’s no place for racism [here],” he said.
Officials with the Brockton Area NAACP are now pushing for hate crime charges against the woman due to the alleged racist motivation behind the assault. Phyllis Ellis, president of the Brockton NAACP branch, was less than satisfied with the initial police report on the incident because it failed to note the alleged assault with the shopping cart or any elements of a hate crime.
“The mayor responded and said it’s an ongoing investigation and that this sort of thing should never happen,” Ellis said. “I’m baffled. I’m upset. I know this goes on all over the place all the time, but when it’s right in your back yard over a parking space? Come on. It’s unbelievable.”
Brockton authorities said a court summons has been issued to the suspect, who now faces charges of a civil rights violation, malicious destruction of property, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Police said the investigation is still ongoing.
“Police are reviewing this as a possible hate crime and are actively seeking to identify the suspect,” Darren Duarte, a department spokesman. “Police will file an arrest report/court complaint once the suspect’s identity is confirmed and the investigation is complete.”
Jean-Baptiste said she has no plans of ever returning to Market Basket.