Safeway employees in Mountain View, California, called the police and accused a Black woman of shoplifting when she was, in fact, donating goods to a homeless man.
The Root reports that the woman, Erika Martin, regularly donates items to homeless folks in the community and went one Sunday evening to check in on a man she often sees around Safeway.
“That day, I decided to give him dog food for his dog,” Martin told local TV station KPIX.
But suddenly she found herself swarmed by police who claimed she fit the profile of a shoplifting suspect.
“The police just blocks me in. I’m like, ‘what’s going on?’” she said.
According to Martin, police told her that Safeway employees had reported that she was working with a Black man and kids to take items from the store and put them in her car. But Martin’s shirt didn’t match the description given by the employees, and she had never exited her car or walked into the grocery store.
Her son had entered Safeway only to check out cookie samples before returning to the car and witnessing the run-in with police.
“He was like crying because he thought they were there to arrest him,” Martin said.
Per KPIX, police said Martin and her family remained “helpful and calm” while they interrogated her for something she had not done. In the aftermath of the incident, Martin said she believes “racism still exists.”
“I blame the Safeway employees and for them to do something like that to me is just hurtful and shameful,” Martin said.
KPIX reports that a Safeway store manager reached out to apologize and said corporate would be contacting her, but she has not received a call. A spokesperson for the grocery chain told the station that employees called 911 because a man who had previously stolen was in the store, but an investigation is underway to figure out why Martin was reported.
H/T the Root