Hi. On January 5, 2023, my boyfriend who is Hispanic and myself who is African American and South American, went into the local Food 4 Less here in El Centro at around 8 p.m. Two workers harassed and targeted my boyfriend publicly in front of the entire store. Unexpectedly, they called the police suggesting that my boyfriend was displaying unusual behavior by going in and out of the store — which in no way was true, he initially was going to wait for me in the car and, due to me taking longer than expected, he decided to come inside. He came got the car keys from me, went outside to lock the door, and came back in to continue shopping. At no point did he pick up anything other than the items that he placed into the shopping cart and a 49-cent blueberry pie that he ate and paid for.

One of the workers in particular followed my boyfriend, around making it apparent that something was wrong and drawing attention to us both, even following my boyfriend from the opposite aisle. So I followed the worker, who was by then talking to two El Centro Police officers. I was not only shocked but enraged at what was going on.

The cops bring my boyfriend out of the restroom and search him in front of a busy store right in the front where the check out. It seemed like everyone in the store was zoned-in on what was going on. The worst part is – while of course they found nothing on him at all – they had no explanation for their actions other than being fueled by our appearance, nothing more nothing less.

– Kayla Motts, El Centro

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