Apologize to the gay man they dicriminated against and the LGBT community
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"OK I just got really, really upset. Was in the Farm Fresh in OV and noticed a guy I thought (from the back) was a friend of mine, so I turned my cart and got ready to head over. Right about then, I saw a store manager following the guy...I mean, like not even trying to hide it. So, naturally, I'm intrigued and grabbing stuff for dinner as I'm following this weird duo, him apparently oblivious to this manager very obviously following him.He checked out and I was over in the produce section, still kind of watching (although I had seen at this point that he wasn't my friend but I was intrigued). What happened next made my brain implode. He paid & was heading for the door when that same manager asked to see in his bag (at this point, I should probably point out that this guy was gay, kind of flamboyant, and carrying a bag...like a man bag or something?). She said because he had a bag that it was "suspect". So, naturally (as I would have done) he gets mad! He raises his voice and says, "You think I didn't see you following me? You follow me around in here all the time!" And she says, "Why you carrying a bag in here to go shopping?" [Side note: WTF? Who cares about his damn bag?] He then says, "Oh, so because I'm a GAY man carrying a big GAY bag, you need to follow me around?" So she tells him to leave and he said, "You're going to have to call the police then, because I'm suing the shit out of this store, and you, for discrimination!" At this point, a HUGE guy steps up behind the manager, apparently a customer, and beginning posturing like he was going to jump this guy, all the while calling him a f****t. At this point, I was fuming and trying to figure out how I could help him (since I did see that manager following him) but I had my daughter with me! At this point, a security guard grabs the guy by the arm and pulls him outside the door, but instead of going back in, the manager follows him outside, pointing her finger and acting, I'm sorry, VERY ghetto..yelling and kept saying he was "suspect". Then the police arrive. The two officers split up, one talking to the guy and one talking to the manager. The general manager, a very nervous looking white guy, had come out by that point and from what I could tell was telling the manager to shut up, but she kept talking over him telling the police he "looked" like he was stealing. Um, I had seen him too....he no more looked like I was stealing than I did...or any other customer. I have a pretty big purse, too, does that mean I'm "suspect"? Because of her continued antagonizing, he kept raising his voice to defend himself. Before I knew it, this guy was cuffed against the wall! The police went through his bag....NO STOLEN GOODS. Yet they did NOT uncuff him or ask the store manager, who was obviously irate and riling everyone up, to go back in the store. So they supposedly arrested this guy for 'disorderly conduct' when the only one being disorderly was the manager? WTF?? I was pissed.... I was so mad I was shaking and was in tears by the time I went home. I'd like to call the Norfolk Police Department and offer my statement.....can you even do that? I was, honestly, terrified to get involved at the store b/c my daughter was with me and I didn't want to drag her into anything like that, but the whole situation was WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG. The part that ultimately turned my stomach and made me vow to NEVER go back to Farm Fresh in OV again was the comments made by EMPLOYEES while the incident was going on. I heard no less than FOUR employees, in uniform, call the man a f****t or f*g. I was horrified. I was so, SO pissed off I was shaking. The girl checking me out made a comment, so I told her nice and loud that this would be my LAST time spending my money at this store if this is how the staff treats its LGBT customers. I'm still pissed off as I'm writing this. I know that I'm straight...I know that I'll never know what it feels like to be a target or to receive direct discrimination because of how I walk, or talk, or wear my hair, or a bag I carry....but I would have hoped, in that whole store, that there would have been more people to stand up to those disgusting employees calling him a discriminatory slur. I thought we, as a human race, were really getting there. Today I saw differently. I'm calling the Norfolk PD in a bit to see if the guy was taken in, and if he was, I'm going in and giving a statement. The guy was NOT acting suspicious in any way, and from that manager's behavior and the subsequent words of the staff, it reeks of discrimination to me. I've seen guys in there with BACKPACKS on (bags much bigger than his bag), homeless-looking guys with bags, and none of them have ever been followed or accused of stealing. I'm horrified that this happened right in my neighborhood and to one of my neighbors, and I sincerely hope I can help him." This is the statement of straight ally Melissa Richard
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