Teen arrested in Wal-Mart racial case
A 16-year-old boy has been arrested after he hijacked the Washington Township, New Jersey Wal-Mart's public announcement system to make racial comments. The boy was arrested Friday night and then released into his parents' custody. He was charged with harassment as a bias crime.
The boy, whose name was not released, faces up to a year in a youth detention center if convicted. Police say that they are not sure if the incident was planned or improvised, although they say it does not affect the case against the boy.
Witnesses say that on March 14 they heard a male voice announce, "Attention Wal-Mart Customers: All black people, leave the store now!" The store's manager quickly made an apology, followed by Wal-Mart's headquarters. Police say that they did not record anyone making the announcement, although they do have a video of three persons, including the suspect, standing near the voice intercom telephone around the time of the incident.
"We are just as appalled by this incident as our customers," Wal-Mart said in a statement. "Whoever did this is just wrong and acted in an inappropriate manner. Clearly, this is completely unacceptable to us and to our customers." The incident is unrelated to the February 2009 lawsuit which claimed that Wal-Mart underpaid black workers.