A video posted today on Facebook seems to depict three muslim men being kicked out of Wal-Mart because they made the manager “feel unsafe”. Blatant racism or legitimate demand to leave private property? You decide.
The video opens with the manager (or whoever the employee is in the Wal-Mart vest) saying, “You need to check out and exit the building, or I’m going to have to call the cops and trespass you [sic]”.
As any human being would be, the gentlemen were shocked at the request and continued to ask the manager “Why?” but got no actual response as far as we can tell from the video. The manager continued to repeat that they would be ‘trespassed’ if they did not comply with her wishes and exited the building.
One of the men decided he’d cut to the heart of it, “Is it because we are three bearded men dressed like this?”. Having just left the mosque on a Ramadan night, one of the men was dressed in traditional garb.
“We literally come out of the mosque, and we get this. We can’t shop? This is ridiculous!”, the men were understandably irritated at what seems to be an arbitrary decision by the Wal-Mart store to make them leave. The men stood their ground and refused to leave, and the police had to be called eventually. It seems like even the police were unable to get a straight answer from the Wal-mart store as to why the men were being asked to leave.
Having waited for over an hour and gotten no explanation, the men decided to leave the store amicably. Thank goodness there was no altercation with the police, and in fact the police officers displayed exemplary restraint and good nature in the face of a heavily racially charged incident.
The repeated refusals to give a cause for the removal speak volumes about the underlying intent, as does the arbitrary determination that the three gentlemen made the store rep feel ‘unsafe’. However, there is unfortunately no smoking gun here. At no point in this video does the Wal-mart representative mention what the gentlemen did, and the manner in which the video is edited might create some suspicion as to its honesty. There are some things that citizens need to remember when capturing video such as this:
- Instant recording – The time it takes to get your phone, go to the camera application and then start filming might be valuable seconds in which you can lose context and even key material. In this case it’s the start of the incident. The incident is already well under way by the time the video is turned on. Wearable cameras such as the Shonin Streamcam help by giving you an easy and almost instant way of starting video capture.
- Editing – Good editing to take out extraneous portions of video is essential to making sure your message lands with the most impact. However, depending on how you edit, it can be possible for detractors to attempt to discredit your video and discount its authenticity. Citizens should consider offering raw footage of the incident so that those who want to investigate in more detail are able to do so.
Regardless, as we have said before, your video does not have to be perfect to have a real impact, and this is a fantastic example. The video is already being shared widely on social media and contributing to raising awareness of how badly some people treat each other. We hope that Wal-mart sees this and launches and investigation into this store rep’s actions.