Supporters have rallied around a Michaels store manager after video of an incident at a Chicago location the day before Thanksgiving went viral.
The footage, which had been viewed more than 590,000 times as of Monday afternoon, showed an angry customer yelling at an employee claiming she was discriminated against while checking out Wednesday. By Tuesday morning, more than 2 million people watched the footage. In the video, the white customer is seen calling a black employee at the Lakeview store “an animal” and telling one employee to “shut your face.”
She claims an employee discriminated against her and mumbled that she must have voted for Donald Trump, but the employee is heard in the video denying that claim.
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“And I voted for Trump, so there,” she said. “What? You want to kick me out because of that? And look who won. Look who won.”
The woman vows to report the employees to their corporate headquarters and yells at bystanders filming the incident before calling the police. An employee can be heard in the background telling the woman she was not discriminated against, but that the employee asked if she would like to buy a reusable bag.
"When I asked for my things to be bagged, and I don't care about the size of the bag, this other woman makes a big deal about it, coming around," she says in the video. "She's screaming at me from across the store, screaming at me."
Jessie Grady, who witnessed and filmed part of the 30-minute ordeal, posted the footage to social media and started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the employee targeted in the so-called rant.
Grady said the employees “did nothing to provoke this verbal attack and in fact treated all customers with professionalism and courtesy.”
“I was so shocked by this unprovoked attack that I captured 17 minutes of it on video on my phone,” Grady wrote on the GoFundMe page. “I am starting this gofundme [sic] because I’d like to do something to try to make it up to the employee who was the main target of this racist attack. I’d like to show her that many people are horrified by how this woman treated her, and that we stand with her and appreciate her hard work. She inspired me because despite the hateful words that were being hurled in her direction, she stood in that entranceway calm and unmoving to protect her staff and customers.”
As of Monday afternoon, the campaign had raised more than $9,000, well above Grady’s goal of $400.
Both the woman in the video and bystanders called police to report the incident. Police confirmed officers were called to the store Wednesday, but when they arrived, the woman was gone and no police report could be filed.
Michaels said in a statement it does not “tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind against our team members or customers.”
“We regret that our customers and team members were affected by this unfortunate incident and are grateful for the leadership of our store team in working to resolve it without further escalation,” the statement read.
The company also tweeted Monday, “We appreciate the outpouring of support for our Chicago-based team member.”