A Black couple claims they were racially profiled last week at a Bed, Bath & Beyond store in Ohio.
The two new homeowners were taking advantage of a going-out-of-business sale at a Toledo-area branch of the bankrupt chain when police were called on them for considering purchasing “too many high ticketed items.”
Lamar Richards, a graduate student, and his partner were out shopping at a branch of the store in Sylvania Township, Ohio, when they noticed police had been called to the store after they began shopping. The couple later confirmed the cops were called because two Black people were suspected as potential shoplifters.
Two videos that captured the incident from two different angles were posted on Twitter on the morning of Friday, June 16.
In it, Richards and his partner were talking to an employee from the store, asking why law enforcement was called on them. The woman with a coral shirt is seen in the footage responding to what Richards considers harassment.
“I would like to know why police were called — with three Black people — thinking we were shoplifting. I paid $600 for my things, so obviously, I didn’t shoplift,” he states.
The man notes that while he paid $600, the large items that were over $200 were held at the counter before he and his partner checked out. He also noted that it was a 60 percent off sale and that none of the items were full price.
The massive sale is a result of the company declaring bankruptcy and closing down all of its stores by the end of June.
Still the workers at this branch were guarding the retail from potential shoplifters like hawks.
The lady continues to repeat nonchalantly the officers were called because the two had expensive items in their possession, making the two a risk to try to steal them from the store. She stated when customers are looking to buy “big purchase” items, the store “usually” questions if the item will be stolen or bought.
“‘Usually a question,’ I can understand that, but police being called, I can’t understand that,” Richards responds.
As the woman said “no, one said you were shoplifting,” and he corrected her saying that was exactly what the police asked him. She admitted that the police (who have their back) were called to check them.
The woman then gestures and says, “Time out… I see what you’re saying.”
Another female employee with a blue shirt emerges and says she called. Without prompting, she says, “It’s my right to call.”
When asked what was “her right?” She stammered to answer before slinking behind the officer as if she was being attacked.
In the background, a younger Black woman was watching and one of the women asked if she was with them. Richards said no, but she was welcome to stay there and watch.
This does not sit well with Richards and he continues to push, wondering why two police officers were looking at him and his partner as suspects.
Richards declares, “I’m not being hostile, I’m not being violent. I just want to know why the store called the police because they thought we were shoplifting.
Adding, “We just purchased a new home. We came in because you’re closing, this is a closing sale. I didn’t realize there was a maximum number of items you could buy.”
“We were not shoplifting but the police were called because you thought we were. I’m Ivy League educated. I have on a college shirt and even that doesn’t stop you from profiling me,” Richards said. “Not one degree, but two degrees.”
The first woman decides she is done with the conversation and says, “We’re not going to be able to resolve this. I don’t know what you want us to say. I don’t care if you’re white, Black or green, if someone is walking around with big high-ticket items…that’s all.”
The police told the couple that nothing was going to be resolved at the moment, recommending that the men report what they considered to be an injustice. One officer did admit that the person who called said the potential shoplifters were “two Black males.”
In a caption to the video posts, Richard wrote that he “never felt so humiliated” in his 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 wrote.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump took note of the incident, retweeting and declaring, “They deserve answers for this humiliating experience.” Within a day, his post garnered almost 3 million views.
Richards also stated he and his partner were never provided with a contact to the corporate office or the district manager to file a complaint.
Bed Bath & Beyond nor the township police have released a comment on the incident.