News / Halifax

Dozens gather outside Halifax-area Sobeys to protest racial profiling of local woman, call for apology

Sobeys is appealing the board of inquiry decision that found Andrella David was discriminated against in 2009

Protesters gather outside the Sobeys in Upper Tantallon on Monday.

Jeff Harper/Metro / Metro Order this photo

Protesters gather outside the Sobeys in Upper Tantallon on Monday.

About 100 people gathered outside a Halifax-area Sobeys to “give voice” to the reality of racial profiling, and support a local woman who experienced discrimination at the store.

On Monday, Rev. Lennett Anderson of the Emmanuel Baptist Church spoke during the noon hour rally in front of a crowd at the Hammonds Plains Road Sobeys who were carrying signs like ‘Sobeys Stop Discrimination,’ and one woman held a framed poster of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

“We are here today to give voice to the reality that racism and racial profiling is a real issue in our society,” Anderson said.

“Race is not a card that we play. It’s a life that we live.”

In October, a board of inquiry with Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission found Andrella David of Upper Hammonds Plains had been discriminated against based on her African Nova Scotian race and/or perception of income when an assistant manager at the Sobeys accused her of shoplifting multiple times in 2009, and said they had her on surveillance tape.

Lennett Anderson speaks to the media outside the Sobeys in Upper Tantallon on Monday.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Lennett Anderson speaks to the media outside the Sobeys in Upper Tantallon on Monday.

According to the board’s decision, David pointed out physical difference between herself and the woman on the tape, and told the manager “if you think that’s me, you must think all black people look alike.”

The manager mentioned catching someone stealing at Sobeys “not too long ago from Pockwock Road” in reference to a street in the historically black Upper Tantallon community, and referenced “cheque day” when discussing which day of the week David was alleged to have shoplifted.

Sobeys is now appealing the board’s decision because they don’t feel David was racially profiled, and don’t believe the human rights board took “into account all the evidence that we had to present,” Sobeys spokeswoman Shauna Selig said after the protest.

Selig said the way the situation was handled “wasn’t appropriate by our employee” but don’t feel it was “racially motivated”

“It was just a matter of proper training, knowing how to handle sensitive situations,” Selig said.

Anderson said they aren’t taking issue with Sobeys appealing the decision, but asking the company to not re-victimize David by bringing her through the process again, and deal with the commission alone.

He added racial profiling is a retail issue and not specific to that Upper Tantallon location, and more rallies are planned for HRM stores in future.

Former lieutenant governor Mayann Francis says she’s followed in stores “all the time,” and attended the rally to help raise awareness of the impact racial profiling has on black residents.

“It’s very tiring to have to strategize before go into a store; how are you going to carry your bag, should you keep it closed? If I open it are they going to think that i just put something in it?” Francis said.

“That is very stressful.”

Anderson said they are calling on Sobeys to apologize officially to David, but Selig said at this point they are only “going through the process with the Human Rights Commission.”

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