OXFORD, AL (WIAT) — A Victoria’s Secret customer in Oxford says that she was racially profiled and was forced to leave the store. Kimberly Houzah got on Facebook Live on her way out of Quintard Mall, and after one day, her video about the incident has been viewed more than 500,000 times.
Last Thursday, she returned to the mall with a group of protesters.
“I’m not here to bash anybody or talk down to anybody, and I’ve said multiple times I don’t want to see anybody down. I don’t want to see anybody do without,” explained Houzah. Several protesters and an online petition have called for the termination of the manager that Houzah dealt with in Victoria’s Secret. “But at the same time, I think African American people as a whole–we’re just tired,” she said. “You know? You can’t just say what you want and do what you want and think it’s going to be okay.”
Houzah said that another customer was caught shoplifting, although she didn’t see it happen. She just saw an African American woman running for the door.
“The manager said something to the manner of, you know, ‘get out of the store, you and anybody else that’s with you stealing.’ And when I heard that, I looked up and she immediately looked at us and said, ‘are you with her?’ And we said, no. And she said, ‘anybody that’s with her has to leave’ and I kept on doing what I was doing because I wasn’t with her.”
Houzah said a few seconds later the manager told her that she would have to leave the store, and Houzah began filming. She waited until security arrived, and according to Houzah, they said that the store had the right to ask her to leave.
When Houzah and protesters returned to the store on Thursday, they were told that the manager that she had dealt with was not on the schedule. The manager who was on duty spoke to the crowd and apologized to them.
“It was just to let people know, you know, this does happen here,” Houzah said, “and I mean, we’re a very small town and you wouldn’t think these kinds of things would happen here.”
Houzah and several protesters said they had attempted to contact Victoria’s Secret corporate offices about the incident, but that they had not heard back. Some suggested a boycott until Houzah receives an apology.
“You know, instead of protesting, instead of marching, or doing bad things, your pocket book and your wallet–that’s the best way to bring attention,” said community activist Landon Brooks, who helped organize the gathering. “If we don’t shop there, if we say, ‘You know what? We’re not shopping at Victoria’s Secret at all,’ then, I think things will begin to change.”
Victoria’s Secret released a statement Thursday, saying the employee in question is no longer an employee with their stores.
Quintard Mall sent out a statement about the incident:
We are aware of the event that occurred yesterday at the Victoria’s Secret at Quintard Mall. The Quintard Mall security team was following instructions from the Victoria’s Secret employee. We take any allegations of discrimination extremely seriously and are committed to ensuring that all of our guests are treated with the utmost respect. We are currently conducting our own internal investigation to better understand the facts of what took place. For more information, please reach Victoria’s Secret at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-415-7555.