Walmart angers black patrons
By Bruce Shipkowski
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A Walmart store announcement ordering black people to leave brought chagrin and apologies yesterday from leaders of the company, which has built a fragile trust among minority communities.
A male voice came over the public-address system Sunday evening at a store in Washington Township, in southern New Jersey, and calmly announced: "Attention, Walmart customers: All black people, leave the store now."
Shoppers in the store at the time said a manager quickly got on the public-address system and apologized for the remark. And while it was unclear whether a rogue patron or an employee was responsible for the comment, many customers expressed their anger to store management.
"I want to know why such statements are being made, because it flies in the face of what we teach our children about tolerance for all," said Sheila Ellington, who was in the store at the time with a friend. "If this was meant to be a prank, there's only one person laughing, and it's not either one of us."
Ellington, of Monroe, and her friend Patricia Covington said they plan to boycott the retailer until they're assured the issue has been addressed so it doesn't happen again.
Officials with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark., said that the announcement was "unacceptable" and that they're trying to determine who made it and how it happened.