Erika Martin was just trying to help a homeless man outside a California Safeway store when employees called 911 and falsely accused her of shoplifting, according to KPIX-TV.
It’s but the latest case in a string of incidents throughout the country of people calling police on African-American people who were doing nothing wrong. The Safeway incident occurred on July 8, 2018.
Here’s what you need to know:
Martin Went to the Safeway Store Because She Wanted to Help the Homeless
According to KPIX-TV, Martin said she helps homeless people because “It makes me feel good, you know.” On the day in question, she decided to help a homeless man who frequents the Mountain View Safeway store.
“That day I decided to give him dog food for his dog,” Martin told the television station.
Martin wrote about the experience on Facebook. “I was at Safeway in Mountain View today,” the post says. “One of the employees called the cops. One of cops approached my car and said I fit the description of someone stealing from Safeway. They also said I was wearing a blue spaghetti strap shirt. This is the shirt I had on at church, at PetCo, when I was sitting in the parking lot at Safeway. You guys ‘I Never Got Out Of My Car.’ Then they said my niece Nyla also fit the description of someone stealing from the store. This world is crazy. ”
Faith Martin-Ware, a relative, wrote on Facebook, “Here is the article of what happened to us at the Safeway store. The article should have said ‘Safeway racially profiles family.'”
Erika Martin Was Falsely Accused of Shoplifting
Martin told the television station that she “found herself suddenly defending herself to several officers who told her Safeway employees accused her of theft.”
According to the Mercury News, the police determined that no crime had occurred.
Martin also wrote on Facebook with the above video: “This is what happened to me today at Safeway in Mountain View. I was accused of stealing from Safeway when I never got out of my car. I never stepped foot inside of Safeway. I was there to bring a homeless man a bag of dog food for his doggy. My sister’s were also there giving items to the homeless people there. They said I fit the description of someone stealing from the store and I was wearing a blue spaghetti strap shirt. This is the type of world we live in you guys. We need to pray because this right here is crazy.”
The Mercury News reported that, per police, five officers responded to the call from Safeway reporting a possible theft and identifying Martin’s car as supposedly being involved in shoplifting (again, police determined no crime was committed.)
Martin Described the Incident as Embarrassing & Upsetting
Martin said the treatment was traumatizing.
“It made me really upset that somebody would accuse me of taking items knowing I was only there to do a good deed, but I was accused of doing something wrong,” Martin said to The Mercury News. “It was just hurtful, just embarrassing.”
A friend wrote Erika Martin on Facebook, “All I know is that your family is so respectful and did not deserve this, that was some BS. Can’t believe someone did that to you guys, you guys go there all the time I’m sure and that’s how you get treated, BS.”
According to Fox News, a Safeway spokeswoman said the store officials contacted Erika Martin to “sincerely apologize for the misunderstanding,” and are investigating what happened.
“Safeway is committed to fostering an inclusive environment and treating everyone with courtesy, dignity, and respect. We have longstanding policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment on the basis of race and other protected characteristics. Employees receive training regarding these policies upon hire and periodically thereafter, and we do not tolerate violations to these policies,” the statement read.