An Ohio Walmart employee has been fired after a Black woman claimed that she was racially profiled.
Anternitia O’Neal told local news outlet Fox19 that she was shopping for groceries — minor items such as juice, cereal, and lotion — at the Walmart on 10240 Colerain Ave in Cincinnati when she claimed she was accused of stealing on May 18. Once she had collected all her items, O’Neal says she went through the self-checkout station to pay for her stuff, and when she wrapped up that process that’s when the now-former Walmart employee, who is white, approached her and accused her of stealing, saying some now-bagged items in O’Neal’s cart had not been scanned.
A confrontation ensued and O’Neal requested the employee get security and review the video. Another Walmart employee approached the scene in an attempt to get an understanding of what transpired before she too left to view the security footage.
The Black woman said she pleaded with the employee several times, explaining that she had paid for all her items. “I just feel that words can’t even explain how belittled they made me feel, less of a human, and that’s unfair,” she told reporters. O’Neal recorded parts of the incident and shared it on her Facebook Live feed.
In the nearly 15-minute video, O’Neal explained what took place. “I was just accused of stealing my items that I had already paid for. This white lady accused me of stealing, came to me basically talking about I didn’t ring up my stuff. That’s racially profiling me. I told her I rung up my stuff, but she consistently stated that I did not ring up my stuff,” she said. “I’m getting ready to sue Walmart on Colerain. I don’t have to steal none of this; I’ve been a nurse for years.”
After security personnel and management got involved and looking at the store’s video footage, they determined that O’Neal had indeed paid for all of her items. O’Neal was also refunded an additional item that was incorrectly charged after her items were apparently rung up again by the employee who accused her of stealing.
Though O’Neal was cleared, she warned the manager that the incident wouldn’t end here. She claimed that she was an activist whose son was killed by police. In 2017, O’Neal’s eldest son Dontez O’Neal was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop. No officers were charged in the incident.
On Thursday, June 3, O’Neal kept her promise and appeared along with several others and protested outside the establishment. The inclement weather forced most of them to stand under a shaded area in front of the store entrance. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the organizers weren’t flashing signs or chanting. Instead, they gathered together as O’Neal and Cory Brown, a member from the Anti-Police Brutality Coalition, spoke with news outlets.
Walmart has since fired the unidentified employee, but not based on racial profiling since there’s no definitive way of proving that it took place. However, the former associate was let go for not following the company guidelines related to the incident. Though the retailer apologized to O’Neal, she is reportedly seeking compensation for damages and demands that Walmart holds a bias and diversity training for all its employees. There’s no word on whether Walmart will comply.