MIRAMAR (CBSMiami) – Walgreens is taking action after two women claim they were the victims of racial profiling at a Miramar store where an employee wrongly believed that they were shoplifting.
Walgreens spokesperson Scott Goldberg tells CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that the employees involved in the incident are no longer with the company and the company will be accelerating its existing unconscious bias and sensitivity training across all of its stores nationwide in the coming weeks.
Goldberg’s statement was released just hours after the two women spoke out at a news conference, saying they were humiliated in front of customers and were in the store to buy cosmetic and beauty supplies for their Miramar business.
Cellphone video posted to Instagram by one of the women, Crystal Davis, shows a Miramar police officer rummaging through one of the women’s purses after a report of possible shoplifting.
An employee called police after noticing suspicious activity on the night of June 12th at the store at University Drive and Miramar Parkway and said the women were seen placing items in bags.
The gave permission for the search and no stolen items were found.
“This was one of the most traumatic things I have been through,” said Davis. “And I have been through a lot. It was so humiliating that words cannot describe it. I saw my life flashing through my eyes. I was made to feel like a criminal. It was horrible. I hope no one else will ever have to go through anything like this.”
Neal said, “My experience at Walgreen was very scary because I have never had any interaction with police before.”
Their attorney, Jasmine Rand, said, “Clearly they were not stealing but my clients went to the front of the store and paid for the items. They were treated in a very degrading and humiliating way in the front of the store. The officer actually put the bag on the floor and began to search through the bag item by item.”
“You can see him unscrewing pill bottles and even looking in lipstick containers to see perhaps if they had put anything in them,” Rand added. “Obviously this was a humiliating experience for my two clients who are business owners who work very hard in the business community. We cannot allow this to continue. Walgreens is notorious for racial discrimination and profiling. If you experience any racial profiling at a Walgreens store step forward so we can share your story.”
Neal’s grandfather, the Rev. Jimmie Bryant of the Antioch Baptist Church in Liberty City, said he was troubled by the incident.
“To see this happening, it blew me away,” Bryant said. “I’ve been the victim of racial profiling over the years. I can only imagine what these two women, who never caused any trouble, went through. It is crazy to think that these things are still happening.”
Goldberg said Walgreens already has anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training in place and treats everyone with respect.
He said the company had met with the women and had apologized. He said Walgreens takes this matter very seriously and is sorry that this happened.
“Our policies strictly prohibit any form of discrimination and racial profiling no the employees involved in this incident are no longer employed by the company,” said Goldberg. “Additionally we will be accelerating our existing unconscious bias and sensitivity training across all of our stores nationwide in the coming weeks.”
Rand said she may sue.
“At this point we are pursuing a lawsuit based on false detention and false imprisonment, negligent infliction of emotional distress on my clients and a violation of their civil rights and racial discrimination,” she said.