A call from a corner store regarding a fake $20 bill prompted police to pursue George Floyd on May 25, 2020 – an encounter that ended his life.
Following Floyd’s death, the corner store said it wouldn’t call the police for nonviolent offenses anymore, with the store’s co-owner writing on Facebook that he and his family were “deeply saddened for our part of this tragedy.
“We realize now that escalating situations to the police almost always does more harm than good,” Cup Foods co-owner Mahmoud Abumayyaleh wrote on Facebook. “By simply following procedure we are putting our communities in danger.”
Abumayyaleh also defended the riots that occurred in the wake of Floyd’s death and urged people to call the Minneapolis District Attorney’s office to voice their concerns.
Now, more retailers are starting to reconsider whether or not to call the police for low-level, nonviolent crimes like the one that led to Floyd’s death, the Star Tribune reported.
Leon Buck, vice president for banking and financial services at the National Retail Federation, told the Tribune that a group of nearly 90 major retail brands meet virtually once a month to discuss diversity programs and implicit bias.
“I think maybe years ago when companies started implementing diversity programs, it was because maybe there was a reaction to incidents, [but] now the frame of mind is that we have to be proactive to implement programs,” Buck told the outlet.
The owners of smaller stores told the Tribune they are trying their best to avoid police confrontations.
Diya Shuaibi, who manages Premium Stop in St. Paul, Minnesota, told the Tribune that he tries to avoid calling police as much as possible and has store rules displayed in plain view. He told the outlet that if someone gives him money he believes to be fake, he will ask them to leave the money and the store or he will call police. He said that usually the threat of police ends the situation, but added that he was prepared to call the cops if he felt unsafe.
“We are living on the streets,” he told the Tribune. “I’m trying to protect myself as much as I can. There’s no option except the police. … We are on our own.”
Hussein Khatib, who co-owns Adam’s Food and Fuel in St. Paul, also told the Tribune he tries not to call police and instead tries to de-escalate potential problems, such as when he catches someone young who is stealing. Instead of calling the police, Khatib said he tries to talk to the shoplifter and maybe even their parents.
“You have to gain community trust. … You have to be involved within your community,” he told the outlet. “You have to give respect to earn respect.”
Former police officer Derek Chauvin is currently on trial for the death of George Floyd. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. He could be found guilty for all, some, or none of the charges.
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