Law enforcement officers were called to deal with an incident of alleged racism at a store at Tanger Outlet Center in Commerce in a case where a store employee thought she recognized someone who had been banned from the store.
According to a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office incident report, a deputy was approached by a 54-year-old Athens man who said he had just come in from South Carolina on a job and stopped by to do some shopping. As he entered the store, he was met by an employee screaming at him, “You know you can’t shop here. Get out!” the report states. The man said he initially thought it was a joke when the employee continued to scream at him, but when he realized she meant what she was saying he asked “why?” He said she then said, “you’re the black guy, you know you can’t shop here.” The man told the officer that he believed it was “a racist issue,” the report states.
The store employee told the deputy that the man looked like another male who had been banned from the store. She said she told him he could not shop there and he needed to leave. She said that he began yelling at her, “Is it because I’m black?” She called her manager at that time who attempted to talk to the man and resolve the situation, but he “didn’t want to hear anything she had to say,” she reported. The man told the deputy that he was going to file a complaint with the store’s corporate headquarters and asked the deputy to get him a number to call if he could. The deputy spoke to the store’s general manager, who provided him with a card. The deputy gave the man the card and a phone number which to contact the sheriff’s office.
The man said he would not shop at the store again.