Home > reflections on race > I am the Glue: Racial Profiling

I am the Glue: Racial Profiling

The news story I am printing below was in the Denver Post today. The young man is a good friend of my kids. He is also biracial- half black and half white. I was shocked when I read the story, but was sickened as I read the comments. His race was on trial. I know this young man and if these commentors knew who they were talking about, it might change some of what they said…

Racial profiling at Denver Safeway store alleged

By Felisa Cardona
The Denver Post

An African-American teen accused of stealing who was detained and searched by employees at Safeway was a victim of racial profiling, according to an investigation by Denver’s Anti-Discrimination Office.

The agency’s Nov. 5 finding of discrimination says “there is reasonable cause to believe that this is not an isolated incident but rather a pattern or practice of engaging in such racial profiling.”

Brandon Anderson-Thayer, now 18, filed a complaint against Safeway alleging discrimination, and the agency’s finding allows him to proceed with a civil lawsuit, said his attorney, Mari Newman.

“We’ve given Safeway every opportunity to try and figure out whether there is a way to resolve this case and to try to be a good community member, and they have just resisted all the way,” she said.

Safeway contends there is no evidence to support the allegations.

“Our company has a long-standing reputation for fair and unbiased dealings with customers, employees and the communities that we serve,” said Safeway spokeswoman Kris Staaf. “The DADO’s probable-cause determination in this case resulted from an inadvertent failure of the company to respond to a DADO administrative request and is not a finding on the merits.

“Safeway is committed to continuing to defend against the claims made here, as well as continuing our efforts to resolve this matter with the DADO.”

On Oct. 14, 2008, Anderson-Thayer, then 17, went to the Safeway at 1653 S. Colorado Blvd. to buy some snacks after school.

He was with two friends, Hassan Robinson, who is also black, and Joe Vilante, who is Pacific Islander.

Anderson-Thayer was handcuffed by security as he bought some hot chocolate from schoolmate Jessica Molendyk, who was working at a breast-cancer awareness stand to raise money.

“The manager’s only stated reasons for accusing Mr. Anderson-Thayer and his friends of theft were the fact that Mr. Anderson-Thayer and his friends apparently ‘looked suspicious’ and that the manager had problems with ‘kids like them’ in the past,” said a report by Lucía Guzmán, executive director of Human Rights and Community Relations, which oversees DADO.

Molendyk told DADO that Safeway head clerk Brandon Nance directed security guards to follow black teens in the store for no apparent reason and that she often observed Nance making racist jokes.

The teens were not carrying any backpacks that would help them conceal items and they paid for the snacks they had, the report said. For a half-hour, the teens were held in an upstairs office and searched and interrogated, the report said.

“By targeting Mr. Anderson-Thayer and his friends for discriminatory surveillance, search and seizure, Safeway denied the teenagers ‘full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations’ of Safeway,” wrote Guzmán.

DADO does not issue fines or sanctions against a business when there is a finding of discrimination.

The goal of the agency is to bring the parties together to come to a settlement or a resolution. If it can’t be worked out, legal action may be pursued by the person who filed the complaint, Guzmán said.

The finding said that Anderson-Thayer’s testimony is “credible” and that the affidavits filed by his two friends and Molendyk corroborate his statements.

Representatives from Safeway met twice with DADO and Anderson-Thayer for mediation but no significant progress was made, the report said.

When Safeway’s attorney was contacted for a third meeting, the company did not respond.

However, Safeway is still trying to resolve the case and is expected to continue to provide information to the agency even though deadlines were missed.

Guzmán said the discrimination finding does not mean a solution can’t be worked out.

“Our major work is the hope that resolution occurs,” she said, “and we will always stand ready to help facilitate positive resolutions.”

COMMENTS ON THE NEWSPAPERS WEBSITE-

There has to be more to this story, it just doesn’t jive as written. And look at the picture of the kid…he looks white!

 

The fact that they didn’t catch him means they are bad at their jobs. You can’t detain people and put people in handcuffs when they haven’t stolen anything. This kid is playing victim and looking for a quick payday and the Post looks like they are going to help him.

 

Good for Safeway. This defense for breaking the law is perposterous. I’m going to start shopping at Safeway as long as they keep racially profiling

 

This has nothing to do with the kid’s rights or profiling. It’s all about money. If Safeway had given the kid a nice settlement to go away, we’d be hearing nothing about racial profiling “blah, blah, blah…” and he’d be over at the Best Buy picking out a new iPod and Stereo Speakers for his car like any teen would.

 

It’s the old “Jessie Jackson (Operation Push) shake down” Works every time.

 

im saying is that if the guy in that photo claims he was racially profiled because he is black…well then he has no case because he isnt black.

 

that kid is white as white gets! Let me guess, he probably listens to rap and has saggy pants, so he calls himself black…uh…sorry, African American. If he is from South Africa I’ll give him this one!

 

i`m looking into my crystal ball…i see it ..still fuzzy.. i see an..escalade in someones future!

And Brandon’s mother must have read this all and responded-

I am Brandon’s mom. He did not steal (nor has he ever stolen) and the actual stated reason, according to witnesses, why they were followed was because the security (a private firm, not DPD) had been instructed to follow all African-Americans. They were followed from the time they entered the store. He was handcuffed (in front of a friend no less-humiliating) and held for at least a half hour. He was a minor and I was never notified. If that happened to your child, would you just let it go? The stress sent him into an epileptic seizure when he got home (a pre-existing condition). Brandon and his friends have shopped there since all of their lives; it is our “neighborhood” store.

How should they have behaved? They were dressed like most men under 30, they had no backpacks and they paid for everything…. and they were still in the store, buying hot chocolate from a Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser, hardly a action buy someone trying to hide something.

To clarify a few points, he chooses how he wants to be identified, as an African-American. We took this to the city because we want the store to change their policy and become more sensitive in how they treat the community. We took it public because the community needs to understand that, even though it is 2009, these things still happen on a regular basis. Most of what we were asking for was that they make amends and form relationships with the African-American community and the school that the kids attend (which is predominately minority and where the kids often come to shop). No Escalade for this family.

Unless you are a minority in this city, you are probably not aware of how young minority males are profiled on a regular basis. I see this happening in the community all of time. This was not the first time for Brandon or his friends to be profiled for “walking while black” and for these young people, it forces them into a position of always having to be on the defense. We are here to say, ” ENOUGH”!

via I am the Glue: Racial Profiling.

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  1. November 15, 2009 at 8:02 AM

    It’s not enough that this incident pisses me off, the comments are over the top. AHHH people make me so mad sometimes.

    He’s too black for white supremacists who would comdemn him for being ANY part black but too white to be the victim of racial profiling? COME ONE!

    Ok I said this before and Imma post it here as well. We need to be boycotting stores where these incidents are happening. We need to let them know why we are boycotting. If we don’t show them there are enough people willing to stand up against this ISH it’s never going to stop. Racism isn’t dead….so neither should the fight be!

    • November 16, 2009 at 1:34 PM

      Excellent point, Jennifer and one I totally agree with. I will be writing Safeway to let them know until this is resolved in what I consider a positive manner, Safeway #1591 in Phoenix, AZ will not be getting my dollars.

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