About ten years ago, I had my first #ShoppingWhileBlack experience. I was in the Lake of the Ozarks with a group of friends called the Bucket Club (don’t ask about the name—but there is a funny story behind it). Anyway, every month we would do different stuff with each other like parties, girls nights, cooking, and so on. This particular month, we had decided to take a mini road trip and hit the outlet mall. It was summertime and hanging outside of the house was the goal. Up until this point, I had only heard about the #ShoppingWhileBlack experience—I had never really encountered it myself. But all this changed the moment I walked into the Discount Shoe Store.
If you have ever been to the outlet mall in Osage Beach (Ozarks), then you know mostly everything is pretty much discounted. If you haven’t, it is certainly a good place to get more bang for your buck (especially on the holiday weekends) and rack up. So, here we are going from store to store—shopping and being silly. Because I love shoes, I decided to check out the discount shoe store. Okay, so let me give you an idea of the types of shoes that were in this store. Do you remember that shoe store that Al Bundy worked in on Married with Children? Yes, these shoes were like those. They were the cute kind of shoes that didn’t have any expensive labels on them—but you could funk an outfit out with them. And for the most part, nothing in the store was over $40.
Now, back to my story.
So I’m in the store and I’m walking around. At this time, I’m in here by myself because my friends went to check out a couple other stores. I’m walking around, looking at the shoes when I noticed the clerk giving me some extra special attention. Initially brushing it off, I continued to look at the merchandise. I made my way through a couple of aisles when I looked up and saw the human security system was still following me.
I looked around the store and noticed I was the only black person in there. Right about then is when it clicked she was following me because I was black, and thought I was going to risk being arrested for those cheap ass shoes. Still in the store by myself, my first instinct was to front her ass out, but since I have a black belt in Petty Arts—I went a different way with it. Since following me was her assigned task, I wanted to see how good she was at hide-go-seek. By now, I’m just messing with her because I have no intentions on buying a damn thing in that store now.
So now, I’m ducking behind the aisles to throw her off and make her think I was actually doing something. I started hopping from aisle to aisle, ducking down behind the end caps. Since this was obviously driving her crazy and showing how crappy she was at hide-go-seek—she decided to walk her not so smooth ass down the aisle and act like she was going to the back. I waited for her to get all the way to the end and then pop out on her ass. She was so damn startled she probably pissed on herself a little bit. But, my work was complete, and I was done with that store. As I was walking out, my friends were coming in. I stood at the front and loudly told them what just happened. Both furious and offended, we all turned and walked out the store.
Though, my #ShoppingWhileBlack situation was fucked up—it didn’t end as bad as Tresor Phandu’s occurrence.
On May 26, Tresor Phandu was a victim of #ShoppingWhileBlack and shitty police work. The perpetrators were the gold star police officers of the Chesterfield Police Department. Oh, let me not forget the newest clown to descend from Beckyville—the store cashier who moonlights as a baby detective.
On this not-so lovely Saturday, Phandu was shopping at the St. Louis Premium Outlet Mall. His store of choice—Saks Fifth Avenue, Off 5th. According to an interview he gave 5 On Your Side, Phandu stated he was shopping to prepare for a trip abroad. He had purchased items at Saks Fifth Avenue for his trip, but according to Photo Polly—he stole them.
I’m sure you’re wondering how Chesterfield came to the conclusion Phandu was the thief. Well, this is where Camera Connie comes in at. Apparently, she was doing more than her usual swiping of the tags when she claims she saw him steal something. After which she decided to go above and beyond her $9.75/hour duties—and ran out to the parking lot to take pictures of his license plates. She then proceeded to turn over her investigation to the police. The next day, Chesterfield Police showed up to his home informing him he was being arrested for theft.
As a frequent viewer of police shows, I feel I am well-versed in police investigations. Normally, they do a thorough investigation prior to accusing and/or arresting someone. I’m sure while you’re reading this, you’re thinking “well they had to have double checked their facts before popping up at his house,” and to that I will say:
Completely caught off guard, Phandu stated the bootleg Starsky and Hutch informed him they allegedly had him on tape. Both Phandu and his wife said the officers were insistent with the fact they caught him red-handed.
This is where it really gets good.
Stepping up their top-notch police work, the CHIPS rejects went on to pull out their ace in a hole—only to realize they had fucked up. Whipping out their slam dunk evidence, the officers showed Phandu pictures to prove he was going down. After reviewing one photo, Phandu informed them the person in the picture was not him. Sadly, since Chesterfield is 81.5% white people (3.3% black), occasionally they think all black people look alike and are criminals— so they continued to insist Phandu was indeed the person in the pictures.
“I just think this was handled badly and I was accused because I was black,” Phandu told 5 On Your Side.
After reviewing several pictures and insisting it was him, the blind leading the blind officers finally choked on their own racism and stupidity. Per Phandu, the only commonality with him and the suspect was the fact that they were both black. Attempting to justify their actions, the department stated how they had been receiving calls that people had been stealing from the stores (so they just assumed he was the local outlet thief).
Once Chesterfield’s shitty
inadequate police work was on full display and they confirmed they recruit remedial officers, the Barney Phifers’ then went on to apologize to Phandu for their obvious fuck up. Contrary to their stellar Facebook reviews of being superb problem solvers, Chesterfield Five-O added to insult to injury by explaining how this happens all time.
Now I’m not sure if they were referring to falsely accusing black people or just falsely arresting people period. Either way, this tragedy isn’t good on any level. To put a band-aid on the situation and give the impression they were doing him a favor—the department stated they were going to expunge the arrest from his record.
Well, gee fucking thanks Chesterfield!
I mean what else is there for you to do when your mall security officers fucked this whole thing up? Although, the Phandu’s have stated this is not the end and they plan to pursue this further, I’m sure they have learned this one valuable lesson:
Shopping While Black is indeed a crime….in Chesterfield.