Skip to comments.Prosecutor investigating NJ Walmart racial comment
Posted on 03/18/2010 7:03:57 PM PDT by grundle
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) -- A racial comment made over the public-address system at a Walmart store in southern New Jersey is being investigated as a possible bias crime, a prosecutor's office said Thursday.
A male voice came over the system Sunday evening and calmly announced: "Attention, Walmart customers: All black people, leave the store now."
The announcement, at the Washington Township store, provoked an immediate apology from the store manager and a promise from company officials to try to determine how it happened.
Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton began an investigation Monday and his office said in a statement Thursday that some of the system phones are accessible to the public and not all are in range of security cameras.
Investigators said the announcement could have been made from any of about two dozen phones inside the store. They reviewed video from store cameras, but did not disclose what, if anything, was discovered.
Office spokesman Bernie Weisenfeld said in the statement that its victim-witness unit has contacted the store's management, offering counseling services to anyone affected by the announcement. The county's Human Relations Commission was offering similar help.
Officials say several people have come forward and expressed interest in getting counseling.
Meanwhile, Lorenzo Lopez, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer was working to reduce the number of phones accessible to the public and with public-address capabilities.
Company officials have said the announcement was "unacceptable."
While it was unclear whether a rogue patron or an employee was responsible for the comment, many customers at the time expressed anger to store management.
(Excerpt) Read more at finance.yahoo.com ...
It was probably somebody tired of waiting at the Site to Store Pickup. I know I’ve used the phone back there to call customer service to tell them I’m tired of waiting for someone to bring my order out. Anyway, the phone has all the buttons marked for the different departments and the PA thing.
Setting the foundation for the flurry of Law suites.
What a waste of time and money!
So some Wal-Mart shopper grabbed a phone and pulled a prank - whatever happened to the First Amendment? How can this person be prosecuted for the words he spoke?
If he was not authorized to use the phone, maybe Wal-Mart can get him for some sort of trespassing claim.
I guess we should be thankful that there is so little crime in New Jersey that this isn't a waste of prosecutorial resources.
“....being investigated as a possible bias crime, a prosecutor’s office said Thursday.”
— — —
When did being a complete dumbass become a crime?
Everybody is acting as if the person was in the store. Several years ago (about 30), my son and his buddies rigged up a CB radio to be on the same frequency as their high school pa system. They then set in their car one afternoon and dismissed the school due to an “emergency”. They never did get found out. I only found out about it five years later over some beers.
Yelling "fire" in a crowed movie theater comes to mind. Not everything said by someone is covered by the First Amendment.
Yelling "fire" in a crowded movie theater would not be considered a "bias crime."
I'm sure that if some low-life grabbed the phone and said "all crackas get out da store now" the only thing that would have happened is there would have been a lot of laughing, hooping and hollering.
“Yelling “fire” in a crowed movie theater comes to mind.”
Stampede as black people listen to the dumbass and storm out of the store :)?
This story is so freakin’ funny I think I’m gonna say something that could get me banned but it would start out something like, “Attention K-Mart shoppers...”. ROFLMAO!
If they escalate this thing any higher BamBam will be having press conferences about it and sicking the FBI on the situation.
This is not relevant to yelling fire in a crowded theater.
Wouldn’t make it right under the First Amendment, which is what I thought we were discussing.
First of all, the ‘fire in a crowded theater’ rule was overturned some time ago. But even if it still existed, the rule existed to prevent a needless panic that could endanger lives in rush to the exits. Such is not the case here. The statement posed no danger to anyone other than the person who said it, provided he was found out.
The county prosecutor has no business jumping on this bandwagon. That is an insult to all the victims of real crime in the state. That headline grabbing political hack needs to be fired and possibly disbarred.
Just shows you how long I have been out of school. I was going by something I learn in a law course I jumped on back in the day, just to fill a requirement. I would love for you to site case precedent for me so I might investigate further. Thanks in advance. ;-)
“Attention, Walmart customers: All black people, leave the store now.”
If this prankster had said: Attention, Walmart customers; All white people, leave the store now.” Would this have been made into this big issue? I think not! Gee, why is that?
A non story if ever there was one, all part of the desperate effort to portray America as a racist country, correction as a White racist country, when that most emphatically is not now the case.
Guess it’s worth mentioning that if any person in the store thought this was a seriuos announcement,or was part of a company or even single store policy,
Then that person is an absolute idiot.
Oh the horrible persecution of minorities in America 2010, some jerk saying something stupid once over a store microphone. /s
Oh for cripes sake. IT WAS A PRANK. GET OVER IT!
SirJohn, you are 100% correct.
As a caucasian, I would bust out laughing if I heard that broadcasted!
Then again, I also have a sense of humor, something sorely missing in urban America.
Just to be clear, this area is not urban. Very nice series of strip and big box stores, I was there tonight.
IF we lived in a white racist country, Walmart wouldn’t be apologizing and changing their public address systems, the government wouldn’t be offering counseling, the patrons wouldn’t be angrily protesting, and the prosecutor wouldn’t be investigating a possible “bias crime”.
If we did live in a racist country such an announcement would be troubling, however I can tell you that living in this area I have NEVER seen anything but black customers being given deferential service, but then let’s have AP turn something inconsaequential into a worldwide incident.
My point was that your counter-example of yelling fire in a crowded theater is not relevant to a dicussion of a First Amendment case of prosecution for a bias crime.
Another example is defamation - if you slander a private person, those mere words are not protected by the First Amendment. But that also is not relevant to a discussion of a First Amendment case of prosecution for a bias crime.
I think if this is a bystander who grabbed the phone without authorization and said what he said, he is protected under the First Amendment from bias crime prosecution for the content of what he said. Maybe the store could get him for some sort of trespassing, however.
On the other hand, if it was an employee who grabbed the phone and said what he said, Wal-Mart may well be in violation of state anti-discrimination laws applicable to public accomodations.
Thank you. Obviously I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. ;-)
This whole thing smells to high heaven. THe prosecutor and counseling service?
I would have loved to have heard the accent, if any, of the male voice making the announcement.
Oh for cripes sake. IT WAS A PRANK. GET OVER IT
I agree, suddenly thin skins become legal challenges.....pathetic
There's a more recent one, I think, but I can't recall the name. The Brandenburg rule says that the speech has to be intended to incite imminent, lawless action.
They should start with the lefties.
It’s obvious to me that he just wanted them to move their Cadillacs from the handicap parking. The usual double parking in the fire lane was ok!
Thanks, gives me a starting point. ;-)
What's next, some kids TPing the wrong house for goodness sakes?
We are a Nation of whimpering Children.
I find that very hard to believe.
Is not racism predicated upon the race of the participants? Being mitigated by similarity rather dissimilarity? If we don't even know the racial component of the first half of the equation, then how are we to conclude, or even surmise, anything?
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