Arrested For Being Black?

On Aug. 5, Evanston, Ill. native Ashley Usher-Coleman was shopping for groceries at a local Whole Foods Market just like any other normal person.

After purchasing $80 worth of groceries at the store, Usher-Coleman was arrested for inadvertently exiting the establishment without paying for one of her vitamins. She says it was an accident, and that the security guard admitted that it appeared to be one. Usher-Coleman said he agreed to let her go with a warning.

The catch was that Usher-Coleman had to sign a legal document stating that she was a shoplifter.

“I said, ‘I would need to call my husband,'” Usher-Coleman told JET. “He wanted to know why, and inquired ‘Are you a child?’After informing him that I would need to wait for my lawyer to call back before signing any legal documents, he rendered me belligerent, uncooperative, and had me arrested.”

Usher-Coleman is now facing a misdemeanor charge, and says that she was not detained for stealing vitamins, but because she was Black.

“It’s absurd [and] I’m sure people make this mistake all the time. In fact, I know this to be true because I’ve asked. Most were given the opportunity to pay for said item and move on. Or given an ACTUAL warning (and not coerced into signing some paper) and let go. All of them were white.”

In response to the incident, a petition has surfaced online urging Whole Foods Market to “stop the racism.” The petition, created on Aug. 12, states that “Whole Foods and the security guard need to recognize their active participation in white privilege and racism.”

The petition calls for the grocer to drop all charges and issue an apology to Usher-Coleman for “the terrible way they handled this situation.”

Usher-Coleman says she just wants to put it all behind her.

“While I’m a tad uncomfortable and want this to be resolved quickly, I do hope that this leads to a larger conversation, Usher-Coleman said. “I hope that it opens the hearts and minds of both predominant races involved to hear both sides, to talk honestly, to connect as human being, to move forward in peace and understanding.”

Click here to view and sign the petition.