An Oregon Walmart has been ordered to pay up after a Portland-area man says he was racially profiled by a store officer, The Seattle Times reports.
A jury in Multnomah County ruled in favor of Michael Mangum after he filed a lawsuit against Walmart alleging that he was harassed by a store officer for “shopping while Black.” The grocery store giant was ordered to pay $4.4 million in damages. Additionally, Mangum said he felt “disrespected and embarrassed” after a security officer at the Wood Village Walmart watched him and attempted to falsely accuse him of making threats before ultimately calling the police.
“When he said he’s going to call the police, I couldn’t believe it, because I hadn’t done anything,” said Mangum. “The only thing that was going through my mind was, ‘You have the right to be here.'” A recent state law in Oregon was put in motion thanks to the suit brought forth against the retail store. The legislation states that lawsuits can be filed against anyone who improperly calls law enforcement with the intent to discriminate or humiliate another person or to unlawfully ban them from property.
The law was led by State Rep. Janelle Bynum after a constituent called the authorities on her while she was canvassing in 2018. According to an attorney for Mangum, the verdict that was announced on Friday (Aug. 19) is believed to be the largest sum awarded by a jury in a racial discrimination case in Oregon history. “Walmart has no respect for the community. They have no respect for the rights of their customers, and they have no respect for the police,” said Greg Kafoury, the attorney for the 61-year-old Portland man. “The jurors, they awarded every nickel we asked for.”
A spokesperson for Walmart, Randy Hargrove, called the verdict “excessive” and said that it was not supported by evidence. “We do not tolerate discrimination,” he said. “We are reviewing our options including post-trial motions.”