11 June 2003

Suing stores because of the behavior of their security.

"Paula Mays, 45, claims she was falsely accused of shoplifting, slammed into a wall and pushed to the floor after she exchanged a belt at a J.C. Penney store in Jacksonville, Florida. Mays sued the company in April in federal court, claiming her civil rights were violated.
. . .
"It had to be because I was black. There was no other reason. I did no more than women do all the time. We look, we look, we look," said [Jannie] Lewis, recounting how she was searching for the right shade of orange lipstick to match a dress when a security officer allegedly took her purse and searched it."
Of course, stores have their own version:
"If the consumers knew the extent of fraud and theft, and the extent to which retailers are trying to fight that, I think they'd understand."
Well, I know the extent and I don't understand. Store security cowboys a lot. I've had a number of cases where security escalated out of hand over $20 or less (lowest I've seen was a $.50 candy bar). Rather than calling police or taking license plate numbers, store security will just man-handle women and provoke men. Although security will often back down because a guy is more likely and capable of defending himself, I have had more than one case in which store security tackled a guy and then got the police to charge the guy with assault.

Of course, I mostly see people who store security had reason to stop. I can't imagine how many people are followed by cameras (which we cannot see), followed by security (which we often don't recognize because they are in regular clothes), and otherwise harassed or jumped on by store security because they fit the profile.


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