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Why dozens protested outside this Virginia Publix store

Posted at 5:58 PM, Jul 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 12:51:16-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- More than two dozen people gathered outside a Publix grocery store in Henrico's East End Saturday afternoon to rally in support of a young employee organizers said was the victim of racism.

Samantha Thompson, who organized the event, said a customer allegedly refused to have a 15-year-old Black employee bag her groceries.

Thompson, who acknowledged that she did not witness the incident, also said that customer later tried to hit the teen with her car.

Rally attendees said they felt compelled to take a stand in support of the teen and also pressure the grocery store to release surveillance video of the incident.

"We want Publix to release the tape so that we can have the community involvement in figuring out who the lady was and bring charges against her," Thompson said.

A Publix spokesperson said the store is cooperating with local law enforcement and has given officers the surveillance video.

"The safety and well being of our associates is our priority," the spokesperson said. "We do not condone racism of any form in our stores."

Police later said Tuesday that the alleged assault happened at the grocery store, located in the 4500 block of S. Laburnum Avenue, on July 24 at 12:30 p.m.

"The complainant, who is an employee of the grocery store, reported to Henrico Police that an unknown customer had driven erratically and nearly hit the complainant in the business’s parking lot," said a Henrico Police spokesperson.

After reviewing the store’s video surveillance, Henrico Police say they've identified a person of interest in the case.

"It was reported that race may have been a factor. As with any allegation, the Division will thoroughly investigate all aspects of the case," the spokesperson added.

Police say the Initial results from the evidence in the investigation have been presented to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office for consideration of criminal charges.

Witnesses to this incident are asked to contact Henrico Police at 804-501-5000.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can submit a news tip here.