Newswire: Safeway calls police on Black woman giving food to the homeless after mistaking her for a shoplifter

By Tanasia Kenney, Atlanta Black Star

 

Erika Martin says Safeway employees accused her of theft as she was trying to feed the homeless. (KBCW / video screenshot) –

Feeding the homeless is now among the list of arbitrary activities Black folks can’t do without someone calling the cops on them.Sunnyvale, Calif. resident Erica Martin said her altruistic efforts were squashed earlier this month when she and her family visited a Safeway grocery store in Mountain View, WPIX reported. Martin said she enjoys donating food and supplies to the homeless and said she and her family were waiting for a homeless man who frequents the store’s parking lot. “That day I decided to give him dog food for his dog,” she said. Before she knew it, Martin said her car was surrounded by police. It turns out Safeway employees had dialed 911, thinking she was a shoplifter. According to the station, workers reportedly thought she was conspiring with a Black man and reported a group of Black kids were stealing items and bringing them to her car. “[The officer] was like ‘well, we were called here because you fit the description of someone taking items out of Safeway and bringing it back to your car’” recalled Martin, who says she never stepped foot inside the store. Martin said what may have sparked the confusion was that her son approached the deli earlier to see if they were giving away cookie samples. She said her son grew frightened and upset when he saw officers approach their car. “He was like crying because he thought they were there to arrest him,” Martin said. Martin’s sister managed to film the encounter and shared it on Facebook, recounting the details of the shocking incident. “Right here at Safeway in Mountain View someone called the police on Erika. She was in her car the whole time,” she wrote. “Crazy. You’ve got four cops here for one Black person. Absolutely nuts.” Officers said Martin and her family remained calm as they investigated the situation. It was clear Safeway employees had made a mistake. Martin said a Safeway manager apologized for the incident and said corporate would call her. They never did. “I blame the Safeway employees and for them to do something like that to me is just hurtful and shameful,” she told the station. “I am not going back to that Safeway ever.” A spokesman for the grocery chain said they’re investigating the matter.

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