An armed security guard employed by a Whole Foods market in Oakland has been “permanently removed” after an altercation with a customer ended in violence, SF Weekly reports. “He was trying to buy groceries with his EBT card and ended up in a stretcher,” one witness, Zoe Marks, wrote on Facebook.
“In Oakland less than four hours and I just saw a young man violently assaulted by an armed security guard at Whole Foods - slammed repeatedly against concrete pillars, put in a chokehold, restrained, and suffocated until he was thrown face down on the pavement unconscious,” Marks wrote in her post, published yesterday morning. “The guard locked him out of the store despite the fact he was immobile. Not a single employee called the paramedics.”
The Oakland Police Department told SF Weekly on Friday afternoon that they are “investigating an assault that occurred on September 3, 2015, at 9:42PM, at Bay and Harrison Street,” and that the victim is in stable condition at a local hospital.
Marks posted three photographs of a man lying on the ground, covered in blood. “Armed private guards cannot be tolerated in our grocery stores and communities when this is what they do to paying customers. Whole Foods needs to be held accountable - security is NOT selective, it is collective,” she added.
Initially, the security guard involved in the incident was simply suspended, but later on Friday a Whole Foods spokesperson said, “The security guard involved with this incident has been permanently removed from Whole Foods Market.”
Speaking of the customer, Marks told the Oakland Tribune: “He wasn’t shouting at anyone. He wasn’t violent or disruptive.” Marks is from Seattle and is visiting Oakland from Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, where she is a lecturer, for a conference. “There was no threat from him to any of the customers or employees. (We) felt safe until the security guard attacked him.”
“Whole Foods Market considers the safety and security of all team members, customers and members of our community a top priority,” Whole Foods spokesperson Beth Krauss told the Tribune over email. “While we move swiftly to gather the facts, we want to make it clear that Whole Foods Market takes a zero tolerance approach to violence.”