Lawsuits accuse stores of targeting black customers

Portland woman said they were profiled while shopping

Kervencia Limage (left) and Shaquoya Burns (right) said they were profiled while shopping. February 23, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Kervencia Limage (left) and Shaquoya Burns (right) said they were profiled while shopping. February 23, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Imagine this: You walk into a store, and security automatically thinks you’re a shoplifter. But, you haven’t done anything wrong.

That is what two local woman said happened to them — separately. Both women are now taking their cases to court.

“I was furious aft first,” Shaquoya Burns told KOIN 6 News. “I wanted to act out, but I had my daughter with me.”

Burns said she was shopping with her daughter at Ross Dress for Less last summer when she was approached by a store manager. The manager said she had to leave because she had previously stolen from the store and was banned.

Limage said a store manager told her she was banned from Ross for shoplifting. (KOIN 6 News)
Limage said a store manager told her she was banned from Ross for shoplifting. (KOIN 6 News)

After telling the manager he had mistaken her for someone else, Burns said she called the police. She went back into the Eastport Plaza store to confront the manager, but said he never believed her innocence.

“You feel intimidated,” Burns said. “Ever since then, everywhere I go I just feel like I shouldn’t be in certain places that I feel like I should be comfortable in.”

Kervencia Limage said the same thing happened to her.

When Limage was walking out of a Best Buy store on Black Friday, she said she was greeted by police. She didn’t buy anything in the store, and officers said they had been called by security.

“I was just shopping like a regular person, you know on a regular day, and to be stopped and be accused of stealing, it just was not a good feeling,” Limage told KOIN 6 News.

Portland attorney Greg Kafoury is representing both Burns and Limage in court. He said, it’s all a matter of perception — white shoppers, he said, often feel as though racism is receding into America’s past. But black shoppers, he said, find themselves followed and watched in stores.

“They are the ones who get stopped,” Kafoury said. “They are the ones who get detained, they are the ones who get searched, it’s an ugly business and it’s rampant.”

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