An employee at a Target store on Long Island, New York, said she was confronted by a customer who demanded she remove a Black Lives Matter mask because she found it offensive.
A video posted to Instagram by the Target employee after their interaction Thursday shows the customer outside the store being asked to leave by security for “disturbing business.”
The video has been viewed more than 43,000 times.
”We want everyone who shops and works at Target to feel welcomed and respected,” a Target spokeswoman said in a statement Tuesday. “Based on a situation that escalated at our Selden, New York, store on June 25, we asked a guest to leave the premises.”
A spokesperson for the Suffolk Police Department said it was aware of the video. “The incident was reported to police on June 29 and is under investigation,” the spokesperson said Tuesday. Police did not disclose the name of the complainant.
The employee, Tana, who asked to be identified only by her first name out of fear of retribution from the customer, said she has been a barista at the Target Starbucks in Selden since February. She said she has worn a mask that features the words Black Lives Matter and an image of a fist on it for three weeks.
Target requires its employees to wear masks. The retailer does not have a policy banning employees from wearing face coverings with designs.
Tana, 21, who is Hispanic, said the woman was being assisted by another Target employee at Guest Services, when the confrontation began about 1 p.m. Thursday. Tana said the customer asked, “You do know all lives matter, right?”
Tana said she responded, “Yes,” and told the woman she is entitled to her opinion but all lives can’t matter until Black lives matter.
“She then said my mask was offending her and I needed to take it the f— off my face,” Tana said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I was telling her I am allowed to wear this mask, the CEO of Target is all about the Black Lives Matter movement.”
The customer said that her ancestors were in the Holocaust, which is “worse than slavery” and told Tana she needed “to educate” herself,” Tana recalled.
The customer was screaming that Tana was “racist against white people,” when a security guard intervened and told the customer, “If you do not leave, we will call the police,” Tana said.
The employee said the customer responded by saying “Do you want more police brutality to come? Because they will come.”
Tana said the guard, who is Black, was taken aback by the woman’s response.
“He was being very civil with her,” Tana said. “He told her that she was causing a disturbance.”
The woman left the store. About half an hour later, after her shift ended, Tana said she went outside to meet her boyfriend who was waiting in his car. Tana said she spotted the woman trying to re-enter the store so she went back inside to alert her managers and security. The woman appeared to be filming herself and was saying she was going to go back inside the store to “record faces,” Tana said.
Tana’s boyfriend, Christian, recorded the video of the woman outside the store that Tana uploaded to her Instagram account. Tana said she believed they needed to do so to prevent the woman from later claiming she was attacked.
In the video, a security guard can be heard telling the woman, “You can’t disturb business, that’s why you’re removed.”
“No one is disturbing business,” she responds. “I’m talking and she was yapping at me. And it’s OK. It was tit for tat.”
The customer, who was carrying her mask in her hand, approaches Tana seemingly to capture her name tag on camera.
“I’m going to ask you to leave one more time,” a security guard in a red long-sleeve shirt tells her. “And if I have to ask again, I have to call the police.”
The woman digs into her bag in an apparent attempt to retrieve something to give to the guard. He then tells her, “I’m not taking any merchandise from you.”
She responds: “Oh, you’re not taking anything? Well, this is going to corporate.” She also says that she has the right to her opinion. The guard replies, “Yes, you do.”
The woman says, “And you know what? I’m telling you that Black lives suck because they got killed.” She mentions the name “Floyd,” in an apparent reference to George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody last month. “So I’m telling you that I’m Jewish and my ancestors were also slaves and also in the concentration camps.”
“So you should understand,” Tana’s boyfriend responds. The customer then says: “It’s not Black lives. It’s everybody.”
The guard tells her that he did not want to argue with her about her opinion. She continues: “What about the Chinese? What about the Mexicans? What about every body else in the world.” She also says that there are “a lot of Black people that are f—— disgusting” and accuses the guard of calling her a bigot, which he denies.
The video was widely shared online where the customer was dubbed Ku Klux Karen, among other nicknames. Some sided with her in the comments of the Instagram post and accused Tana of “playing the race card.”
Tana said she did not share the video on Instagram so people would come after the woman but she does hope the customer learns from this experience.
“I just wanted people to see this is happening everywhere,” she said. “And it’s happening to essential workers that are doing absolutely nothing wrong.”