SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — A strong show of support Wednesday afternoon for an 11-year-old San Francisco boy who was stopped inside of a Safeway by security guards wrongly accusing him of stealing a sandwich last week.
His school organized a march in his support on Wednesday.
Last Monday was Ja’Mari Oliver’s first day back on campus.
Unfortunately the excitement he felt that morning quickly turned to tears — when he was stopped by security guards at the Castro Safeway after he purchased a sandwich for lunch.
Administrators, students and parents of San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy put their lessons in action Wednesday after one of their own was falsely accused of stealing at the Castro District Safeway.
“They racially profiled me for stealing sandwiches.”
“He was devastated, he’s never been racially profiled,” Ja’Maris mom Tatiana Oliver said. “I talk to him about this all the time. But me nor him thought he would have to go through this this early?”
Ja’Mari Oliver and his mother Tatiana were headed to school last Monday when they stopped to buy a sandwich like they’ve done everyday since the 11-year-old was in kindergarten.
“He just asked me if he could go in by himself, so I told him he could go in but I never expected that to happen at all,” Tatiana Oliver said.
On his way out the door from the deli — Ja’Mari says two security guards stopped him and questioned whether he had stolen the items. Ja’Mari showed them his receipt, but he says they kept questioning him until the store manager told him he could go.
“I felt scared like, something was gonna happen to me,” he said.
“I’ve always told him to keep his receipt, but only if like he wanted to return it; not because I would think someone would think he would steal,” Tatiana Oliver said.
Safeway sent us a statement about the incident saying the company has clear policies against discrimination and racial profiling.
“Across all of our stores we strive for an environment where everyone is treated with courtesy dignity and respect — clearly this instance fell short of our expectations.”
Safeway says the security guards were hired from a third-party.
They also offered Ja’Mari and his mother a $25 gift card.
“Something like that can’t fix what happened.”
Safeway says the security guards involved have been removed from the store.
Both Ja’Mari and his mother say they felt very supported by the school community that showed up for him today to say this type of behavior is not acceptable.