Other Racial Taunts Reported at Turnersville Wal-Mart

Cynthia Burton, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 21, 2010

Washington Township police are widening their inquiry into racial incidents at the Turnersville Wal-Mart after the arrest of a juvenile on charges of harassment and bias intimidation, Chief Rafael Muniz said yesterday.

At a noon news conference, Muniz and Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton announced that they had arrested a 16-year-old Atlantic County boy accused of using a store telephone in the home-and-garden section last Sunday to announce over the public-address system: “Attention, Wal-Mart shoppers: Will all the black people please leave the store. Thank you.”

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Gloucester County NAACP leaders, who attended the news conference, said they had been told of two other recent incidents at the Wal-Mart, on Route 42.

On Wednesday, a man called the store and asked Wal-Mart to tell African Americans to leave. And someone used the store’s public-address system several months ago, too, to ask African Americans to leave, they said.

Muniz said he was seeking a warrant to go through Wal-Mart’s telephone records to verify and trace the Wednesday call.

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The boy was arrested late Friday after Muniz put his 13-member detective staff on the case.

The police were joined by county detectives.

The incident Wednesday was reported by Terence Jones, chairman of the NAACP chapter’s fact-finding committee. At 12:21 p.m. that day, he said, a person called the Turnersville Wal-Mart and said, “You need to get the n- out of Wal-Mart right now.”

Jones also said that about three or four months ago at the 24-hour superstore, someone had commandeered the public-address system about 2:30 a.m. and asked African Americans to leave.

Muniz said Wal-Mart had not reported either of those incidents to the police.

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Winters [Gloucester County NAACP president Loretta Winters], of the NAACP, said she would talk to Wal-Mart about setting up sensitivity training.

“Hopefully, they will welcome us in,” she said.

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