It appears that Black people can add “shopping for a refrigerator at Costco” to the list of things we can’t do without having the cops called on us.
In May, Barbara and Bahri Wallace had just finished a run to the wholesale club in Arundel Mills, Maryland before getting pulled over by an Anne Arundel county police officer, according to reports by WBAL-TV 11.
In their own investigation of the stop, the Wallace’s found out that they were suspected of being a part of an ink cartridge theft ring, which prompted a manager to call in their license plate number to the local authorities. Now the couple is suing the well-known retailer for $4 million in damages.
While police quickly cleared the couple of the imagined crime, the lawsuit addresses their well-founded claim of racial profiling on the part of the Costco store manager, who explained when confronted that the reason he called the cops was because the Wallace’s “fit the bill.” Adding, “African American male, female and your wife is carrying a blue purse.”
In a statement, Costco relinquished itself from any wrongdoing and put the blame squarely on the county police. However, the 911 call from that day shows that the store manager did in fact call into authorities with “a robbery in progress.”
“I need police immediately at the Costco wholesale,” the caller said. “I have a robbery in progress. They’ve been here before. They just robbed the Glen Burnie Costco an hour ago.”
An attorney for the couple told WBAL-TV 11, “There’s more here than a simple mistake. Employees can come to the job with certain biases. Corporations, particularly of this size, are responsible for training individuals. If they are a responsible company, they train individuals to deal with those types of bias.”