March 20, Washington Township, NJ
The authorities in southern New Jersey said Saturday that they had arrested a 16-year-old boy for activating a public-address system at a Wal-Mart store last week and ordering “all black people” to leave.I share Ms. Duckrey’s opinion. When I first heard the police had been called I couldn’t imagine why. It was clear a prank, although it was in poor taste. It’s too bad the taxpayers are spending any money or resources on prosecuting this kid. I suspect, at the end of the day, he will do some volunteer work and then the charges will be dismissed.
The boy, from Atlantic County, was charged by Gloucester County authorities with bias and intimidation and harassment in connection with the episode last Sunday. If convicted, he could face up to a year in a juvenile detention center, officials said. His name was not released because he is a minor.
According to the police, the boy picked up a public-address telephone in the Wal-Mart in Washington Township, one of two dozen accessible to the store’s customers, and said, “All black people, leave the store now.”
News of the arrest circulated among the customers at the Washington Township store on Saturday afternoon.
Paulette Duckrey, 43, who is black, said that when she heard about the episode, she guessed that it was a prank by a customer.
“I assumed it couldn’t have been an employee,” she said.