Businesses are reportedly being pressured to soften enforcement against shoplifting and other ‘low-level crimes’ from activists who say blacks and other minorities are unfairly penalized.
The Star Tribune, Minnesota’s largest newspaper, reports that “criminal justice reform experts and diversity specialists” are urging major retailers and smaller merchants to “reassess how they treat Black and other minority customers and how they can handle loss prevention cases more equitably.”
Using the death of George Floyd as a backdrop for their agenda, activists are demanding businesses do more to make minorities feel welcome through bias training for employees, increased diversity hiring, and a softened approach to criminality.
“Raymond Moss, who runs the St. Paul-based Carl Moss Institute that helps young people who have been incarcerated re-enter society, believes more stores need to forgo calling the police for small crimes and change the loss prevention culture among their security officers and staff,” the paper reports.
“When police do become involved, people should be steered to diversion programs with groups that are familiar with working with youth of color, Moss said. Retailers should also phase out using off-duty police officers for store security, he said.”
Activists claim minorities are profiled due to “racial stereotypes” which often leads to “exclusionary treatment of people of color” in stores.
“When [black people] are asked about the contexts where they are treated unfairly due to their race … shopping in a store ranks above all other settings, including interactions with the police,” sociology professor Cassi Pittman Claytor told the paper.
Many national retailers are reportedly discussing coordinated policy updates to address “bias” and loss prevention protocols.
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