SF Grocery Outlet security guard fired over racial profiling incident

Grocery Outlet in progress on South Van Ness and 23rd Streets. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

An encounter on Mother’s Day between a shopper at the recently opened Grocery Outlet at 1245 South Van Ness Ave. and a security guard employed to safeguard its premises ended with the latter being fired.

The shopper, Mission resident and local artist and activist Amos Gregory, alleges that he was racially profiled and threatened by a security guard employed by the store while standing in the discount grocer’s parking lot on Sunday afternoon. Gregory, who is black, said that he was approached by the guard and accused of “loitering” moments after he had completed a grocery run.

A video recording taken by Gregory captured the interaction between him and the guard, whom Gregory identified as Dylan.  The guard was armed with a baton and possibly a Taser.  Gregory alleges that the guard threatened to taser him, although that threat was not captured in the video.

“You just said I’m loitering? I’m a customer,” Gregory can be heard saying in the video as he squared off with the guard. “This is my food I just bought, so why are you harassing me Dylan?”

In a Facebook post published after the incident, Gregory wrote that he had paused in the parking lot “to have a smoke before I grab my purchased things and a security guard asks if I am waiting for an Uber.”

Gregory allegedly replied to the guard’s inquiry with “no –just walking home and thank you very much.” The confrontation quickly escalated when the guard accused Gregory of loitering.

“The Guard then says I am loitering and proceeds to say that ‘Your people are not wanted here at this store,’ says that my objections toward him are nothing more than a “Black Lives Matter” and people like me creating problems,” Gregory wrote in the Facebook post.

In the video, the guard can be seen telling Gregory to move. When Gregory refused, the guard accused him of “disorderly conduct” and threatened to call the police.

“I’m gonna call you out when PD gets here,” the guard said. Moments later, the guard seemingly calls for assistance using a walkie talkie. “I have a disorderly conduct refusing to leave private property. He is a paying customer but that doesn’t give him the right to loiter on private property.”

Unperturbed, Gregory continues to film from the spot where he had parked his grocery cart.

“Glad you show your ignorance,” the guard tells Gregory. “You’re becoming a public nuisance.”

The guard can be heard accusing Gregory of presenting a physical threat to a colleague responding to the call for assistance. Gregory said he never physically threatened the guard.

“I’m no physical threat to you,” responded Gregory. The guard then tells Gregory that he is banned form the property permanently shortly before referencing the  “Black Lives Matter” movement.

“All you guys ever do is protest,” the guard said. He also can be heard making racial remarks about Gregory, referring to him as “you people.”According to Gregory, the police never arrived. Instead, the guard allegedly threatened to taser Gregory as soon as he stopped filming.

After Gregory left the grocer’s premises, he said that he immediately filed a police report.

“To be honest with you, getting lower cost groceries is wonderful but not when you and people who look like you (black people) cannot go in there safely without getting shot, tasered or harassed by some racist security personnel,” wrote Gregory on Facebook. “This is the worst addition to the Mission Neighborhood in a long time.”

The guard, who was employed with the San Francisco-based security company The Kingdom Group, was been fired shortly after the incident. The company did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

On Tuesday, Grocery Outlet’s branch manager, Eric Liittschwager, told Mission Local that he was notified of Sunday’s incident by a neighbor, and that he was “just as disturbed as anybody about that and so was [the guard’s] boss. He’s certainly not coming back to our [store] and I believe he’s been terminated.”

Liittschwager said that he has not parted with the security company and intends to “give them another chance to make it right but obviously with a different individual.”

Grocery Outlet opened in the Mission some two months ago and has faced some security issues, said Liittschwager. “I’ve had several conversations with the CEO of that company and told him I really need security. We’ve had death threats, one person stabbed, a couple of strong arm robberies. Its only been two months. I have to make sure my staff is safe.”

The conduct of the guard, said Liittschwager, is not representative “of my attitude or viewpoint.”

You may also like:

10 Comments

  1. Yes he should be fired, a security guard was put there to make sure the safety of staff and customers not to make them never return again. Anything that is bad for business should be dealt with.

  2. Brian Jones

    Mr. Gregory, I live three blocks from that store and sometimes shop there, and I am appalled at the way you were treated by that so-called security guard. Thank you for filming this encounter. Thank you for taking the time to report this to the police. And most of all, thank you for telling him that he and his gun are not wanted in our neighborhood.

  3. Mark

    I live in the neighborhood and have shopped many times at Grocery Outlet since it opened. This is absolutely disgusting. Eric, your response is not enough. Start by confirming the The Kingdom Group has fired this employee. If they have not or will not confirm this information, cease your relationship with this company. Mr Gregory also deserves a full and formal apology.

  4. Scott D

    I feel sorry for the working people trying to make a living at this store. I’ve seen them threatened, watch them dealing with endless shoplifting by the homeless, etc. If I owned this store I would close it down. The security guard was wrong in this case but after dealing with abusive homeless who hang out in the parking lot all day and shoplifters I say to cut him some slack. It doesn’t matter in SF, but across the country progressives are losing for appearing to care more about the destitute than the working people just trying to get by–cashiers, security guards, waitstaff etc.

  5. ROBERT

    Love this store. Prices are more than reasonable. It’s clean and well stocked. A welcome addition to the neighborhood. God bless the owners whoever they are. Exactly what the neighborhood needs and god knows they get plenty of undesirables hanging around.

  6. Maria

    Totally needs to be fired! Very racist. This video got me hella mad I wanna beat the shit out of him . The mission was never like this it’s changing so drastically.

  7. Gerard

    At a time when grocery store owners are fending off the most shameless of shoplifters, yes, by all means, let’s get into petty arguments with security guards being tasked with an impossible set of challenges. Better to create unnecessary and imaginary racial confrontations than to stop the rising tide of violence and larceny being committed by people who have no fear of accountability when it comes to robbing neighborhood stores.

Something to add?

Full name required to post. For full details, read our Policy