Dozen of Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy students and faculty members protested for a fellow classmate who said he was racially profiled at local Safeway.
Ja’Mari Oliver, 11, visited a Safeway on the morning of April 26, but security guards insisted that he stole the sandwich he paid for, The Hill reported.
Oliver had the receipt, but the security guards would not let him leave the store until a manager verified his purchase.
The whole ordeal was tragic for Oliver, who went home crying to her mother. When Tatiana Hawkins went to the store to get an explanation of how her son got profiled, she described the Safeway workplace as “hostile.”
“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, said spokesperson Wendy Gutshall, the San Francisco Examiner reported,
“The store manager was unaware of what happened until the young man returned to the store with his mother,” Gutshall 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 managers gave Hawkins a $25 gift card.
Third-grade teacher Ryan Swick said his students are aware of the racial divide among Black people and White. As students of a school named after an openly gay civil rights icon, they wanted to take a stand against injustice.
“Kids are aware that this kind of stuff happens,” Swick told the Examiner. “You don’t think it happens to someone in your community, until it happens to someone in your community.”
Last Wednesday, students, staff, and community members walked a mile to the Safeway, marching on Oliver’s behalf and 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.”
Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy also prepared a list of demands for Safeway.