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A 59 year old African-American woman was awarded $105,000 by an Oregon jury after being falsely accused of shoplifting at an H&M store.
In 2011 Brenda Moaning was followed by a video camera then taken to a back room by loss prevention officers after she visited an H&M store at Clackamas Town Center in Oregon.
Moaning says that although she had all receipts for the items in her bag, she was yanked into a backroom by her arm like a common crook.
Although Moaning claimed that she was followed because she was black, the jury didn’t agree with her and refused to grant her discrimination lawsuit. Still, the jury found that Moaning had been falsely arrested with malice and that the H&M workers were guilty of battery for taking her purse.
Moaning says her feelings about the verdict are mixed since she is disappointed that the jury didn’t find that race played a role in the incident.
“How do we let them know that’s not who we want to be?” said one of Moaning’s attorneys, Greg Kafoury, according to Oregon Live. “How do we get that message all the way back to Stockholm, Sweden? They may be in 54 different countries, but I’m sure there’s one language they understand. The language of money.”
H&M spokesperson Katie Buxman contended that the store had good reason to watch Moaning. According to Buxman, Moaning wore an H&M dress, carried an H&M shopping bag, and one of the loss prevention officers recognized her as having visited the store for a third time in only two days.
The confusion came when Moaning checked out. Moaning says when she got to the counter, she told the clerk that a $5 cardigan was such a good buy she wanted another. In an effort to prevent Moaning from having to wait in the long line twice, the clerk allowed her to pay for the second cardigan at checkout. Moaning paid for both cardigans, then went and threw the second cardigan in her bag and walked out of the store. That’s when loss prevention detained Moaning for 16 minutes.
Moaning says the experience has changed her.
“Now, when I do go into stores it makes me wonder, ‘OK, is a code being called because a black woman has entered the store?’” Moaning said. “I feel like I’m being watched.”