Fair warning. I’m veering into politics, history and current events on this one. It’s just that there are times when I have to say something. This time, it’s in reaction to news coming out of Blue Ash, Ohio. Blue Ash is a small city (less than 14,000 in the 2020 census) and is located in the Cincinnati area. What brought it to my attention this morning is a story that started in October at the local Target. Usually, I’d have ignored the story–as would all of the media–except for one thing: what started as an unruly customer turned into a potential Civil Rights issue. In this case, however, it really was a situation of being in the wrong place and definitely making the wrong choices.
In October, a woman approached a cashier with her basket of groceries and probably other items. One report I read asserted there was approximately $1,000 worth of goods in the basket. According to the police report, the woman asked the cashier to get the manager because she wanted to talk to them about “the bill and reparations“.
I’ll admit, this is where I did a double-take and went “huh?”.
Well, the manager arrived and the discussion did not go well. The customer asked for reparations. I’m sure the manager’s reaction was probably, at least initially, like mine. “Huh?” The customer became angry and, according to the police report, walked aggressively toward the manager. The police report also said the customer continued to “berate” the manager about reparations and her (the manager’s) privilege.
When the store’s security guard (pardon me, the loss prevention officer) approached, he attempted to calm the customer down and he also asked her to leave the store. In other words, he set the groundwork for a trespassing charge if the police needed to be called.
Everything could have ended calmly then if the woman had followed his instructions but she didn’t. Instead, she followed him to his office and continued to yell at him. And she paid for it. Video from the store shows him punching her and knocking her to the floor when she continued to close in on him.
This is when I figured he would be the one the cops charged when they responded to the scene. I was wrong. The responding officers reviewed the security footage and determined the customer was the aggressor. The customer also became aggressive with the officers. Not exactly the choice she should have made considering her position just then.
According to another media report, the customer wanted more than a discussion about reparations. She wanted her $1,000 grocery tab paid for by Target as reparations. The report goes on to say the manager told the woman if she wanted a donation, she needed to call the store in the morning (presumably to talk to the person authorized to make such decisions–ASG). The customer did not like this and became “verbally abusive”. According to the security guard, the customer not only refused to follow his instructions to calm down and leave but began backing him toward his office. He felt threatened and he struck her in an attempt to protect himself.
Now, I have a lot to questions about this incident. But I also have a couple of observations. The woman may be a firm believer in the need to make some sort of amends to African-Americans for the travesty that was slavery. She may be a direct descendant of someone who suffered being a slave. There is an argument for our government making some sort of settlement regarding reparations. The key word there being “government”.
In this case, what she wanted was basically a handout by a corporation. One that wasn’t around during the time when slavery was legal in our nation. I find myself wondering if she wanted an audience to have what she called her “Rosa Parks moment”. Whatever her motivation, she chose the wrong target (pardon the pun) if what she really wanted was reparations. She had no knowledge (as far as I know) about the cashier’s background. So she didn’t know what her living situation happened to be, didn’t know what sort of childhood she had, didn’t know if she’d ever been the victim of violence or abuse. Instead, she made a decision based on skin color about the cashier’s “privilege”.
But what really jumped out at me was how she is now claiming this was her “Rosa Parks moment”. I would recommend she go back and study Ms. Parks and what she did that fateful day on the bus. Ms. Parks didn’t scream and shout. She didn’t demand payment for goods the rest of the world would have to pay for. Instead, she peacefully protested by refusing to give up her seat to a white man. Before that, she refused to depart the bus from the rear. When the bus driver grew angry and placed his hands on her, she left the bus instead of going from the front of the bus to the rear to leave through the “correct” door. That is a far cry from what happened a few months ago in that Target store in Blue Ash, OH.
There are ways to make your point and to bring about change. Pitching a fit in a Target after trying to basically steal $1,000 worth of groceries isn’t it. All this woman accomplished was causing a scene and getting herself a Disorderly Conduct conviction, along with a sentence of a day in jail and a $110 fine. It’s a small penalty but certainly a far cry from the $1,000 worth of groceries she wanted for free.