Long Island Wal-Mart accused of racial profiling after locking up Black hair care products

Locking up Black hair care products is a form of racial profiling, one Wal-Mart customer in Riverhead, N.Y., insisted. That was enough to get them to change their policy

Wal-Mart store (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A Long Island, N.Y., Wal-Mart is under fire after customers noted that all of its African-American hair care products had been locked away in a case.

According to CBSNewYork, on Tuesday, a Walmart in the Riverhead area used to keep Black products in a glass case that could only be opened with a key by management. But after one shopper pointed out the bias exhibited by only doing this with products used by people of color, they’ve since reversed the policy.

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“That’s discrimination,” said customer Patricia Fulford, who found herself waiting 10 minutes for the case to be unlocked.

“So I went and found the manager and said, ‘I’m waiting for the key for shampoo and conditioner.’ I said, ‘But let me ask you, why are the Black hair products locked up and not the white hair products?’ He said, ‘Um, um,’ and another associate said, ‘Well, people have been stealing,’” Fulford said.

While Fulford concedes that she understands why Walmart has a policy of locking up expensive items, the Black hair care products which she saw under lock and key only ranged in price from $1 to $25.

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“It’s just not right that I have to wait for a key to get shampoo and conditioner and my fellow shopper does not,” she maintained.

A spokesperson from Walmart’s corporate office told the station that, “discrimination of any kind is not tolerated. Decisions for enhanced security are made on a store-by-store basis.”

However, when Riverhead Town Council member Catherine Kent, who is with the Anti-Bias Task Force, asked management to prove the reasoning behind their actions, they fell short.

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“They said this was based on data of theft in the store and we asked to see the data, and at that point she referred us to call 1-800-Walmart,” Kent recalled.

“I would just like everyone to be able to go into Walmart and have the same shopping experience,” said Fulford.

However, she isn’t alone in this sentiment because a lawsuit was recently filed in California against Walmart over a similar policy. That case is scheduled for to go to trial next year.