Story at a glance:

  • A 11-year-old Black boy was held up at a Safeway.
  • Even with his receipt, security guards did not let the boy go until the manager arrived.
  • Protesters have taken aim at the store.

Children and staff at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy staged a protest on behalf of a student who alleged he was racially profiled at a Safeway grocery store.

On April 26, Ja’Mari Oliver just wanted a sandwich from a nearby Safeway for his morning commute to school. Upon leaving the grocery store with his purchased sandwich, he got blocked by security guards who insisted that Oliver stole it, San Francisco Examiner reported.


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Despite providing the guards his receipt, the 11-year-old boy was held up at the store until the manager sorted things out.

The Examiner reported, “A Safeway representative confirmed that third-party security guards asked for a receipt and eventually Ja’Mari left the store with his mother. Those involved have been ‘removed’ from the store."

“The store manager was unaware of what happened until the young man returned to the store with his mother,” Wendy Gutshall, a Safeway representative, told the Examiner. “He extended our most sincere apologies for the boy’s unsettling experience. While our internal investigation is ongoing, we can tell you that this is counter to our policies and training.”

The experience left Oliver in tears. When his mother, Tatiana Hawkins, went to the Safeway for answers, she told the San Francisco Chronicle that employees there were hostile.

For her troubles, the managers gave her a $25 gift card.

According to Ryan Swick, a third-grade teacher at the school, his students are aware of racial disparities in America.

“Kids are aware that this kind of stuff happens,” Swick said, according to the Examiner. “You don’t think it happens to someone in your community, until it happens to someone in your community.”

On Wednesday, students, staff and community members rallied against racism. They walked in a 1-mile march to the Safeway store on Market Street, carrying “Black Lives Matter" signs.

“We don’t just want to focus on the things that can happen to [Black and Brown students],” Swick said. “But also, how are we restoring Ja’Mari’s joy? How are we showering him with the community to let him know we are with him? When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.”

In respect to Oliver, the school has made a list of grievances it demands to bring to a meeting with Safeway.

Changing America reached out to Safeway but didn't immediately hear back.


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Published on May 07, 2021