Sobeys Boycott Urged by Baptist Group After Appeal of Racism Ruling

Yahoo News, August 23, 2015

A group of African Nova Scotia churches is calling for a boycott of Sobeys after the grocer appealed a human rights decision that found one of its employees used racial profiling to target a black customer.

The racial profiling incident at the grocery store chain’s Tantallon store in 2009 wasn’t isolated, said Rev. Lennett Anderson, moderator of the African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia.

“This isn’t just a Tantallon reality,” Anderson said following a weekend meeting where the boycott motion was passed by representatives of 19 churches, whose members number in the tens of thousands.

A spokesperson for Sobeys said in an email Monday that the company expects to withdraw the appeal “shortly.”

“We have had several discussions with the Human Rights Commission,” wrote Shauna Selig. “We expect to finalize an overall resolution shortly which will include a withdrawal of our appeal.”

But Anderson said a withdrawal is not enough–the community is also looking for an apology and a recognition of what happened on behalf of the grocer.

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“We were only going to hold the boycott until such a time that the grocer would acknowledge the societal ill of racial profiling and the role that they played in victimizing our community residents,” said Anderson.

Last year, the independent Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission ruled that Andrella David was a victim of racial profiling when she was wrongly accused of shoplifting at a Tantallon Sobeys in 2009.

In April, the board of inquiry ordered Sobeys Group Inc. of Stellarton to pay David $21,000 and provide her with a written apology. The grocery store chain was also ordered to participate in Human Rights Commission-approved training related to racial profiling and discrimination.

Sobeys appealed the ruling.

The appeal sparked a protest that drew hundreds of community members in Tantallon, where participants spoke about their treatment at other stores.

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“We were overwhelmed by the number of people who came from Halifax, Dartmouth, North Preston,” Anderson said. “Many stories have come to light. Many residents have talked about their own experiences.”

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Correction : A previous version of the story said the African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia was providing legal counsel for Andrella David. In fact, the Emmanuel Baptist Church is the group who has asked its lawyers to help her. Also, Rev. Lennett Anderson will not be introducing a motion about the boycott, but will be speaking about the issue with his colleagues.

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