Kroger is apologizing and promising sensitivity training at all Dallas-area stores after a North Texas woman says her sons and nephews were racially profiled at a Mesquite store Thursday.
Ukiah Swain said a Kroger employee called the Mesquite police and accused the four boys of stealing after profiling them. When the police arrived they found receipts for items in the boys' possession, and nothing stolen, but still handed them trespassing warnings.
Swain said she couldn't believe it, so she confronted the manager.
"I said, 'Come again?' And he said, 'They looked like they could be shoplifters' and he laughed," Swain said.
Zavarion Swain, 16, said he asked the manager what he did and the manager replied, "We've had problems with people like you before."
"You could see the hurt on his face. You could see the pain and he asked me, 'Ma, how do I not look like a criminal so this doesn't happen again?'" Swain said.
Kroger responded again Monday saying they contacted Ukiah Swain personally and apologized, saying they "did not live up to their values in this situation." They also said the store associates involved have been removed from the store while the incident is investigated; they did not say if they are in another store, at home or what may happen to them at the end of the investigation.
Kroger also promised to accelerate previously planned sensitivity training to occur at that store, and all Dallas division stores, within a month.
The trespass warnings given to the boys by Mesquite police means if they come back to that Kroger location within the next year, they could be arrested and charged. Warnings like this are at an officer's or business' discretion.
Kroger also said Monday that they rescinded any complaint stemming from this incident.
"We recognize these steps alone won’t change the broader systemic and cultural biases that plague our society, but we believe that together they demonstrate the seriousness with which we take these issues and our desire to be a part of the solution," Kroger said in a statement.
The NAACP, meanwhile, told NBC 5 they planned to hold a protest outside the store Monday afternoon.