Grocery stores are a hotbed of racism and hate crimes, data shows

Hate crimes at grocery stores have quadrupled since 2010, as the pandemic, politics and mask mandates collided in one of the few public gathering spaces still open in 2020.


By Elliott Ramos, NBC News  

June 15, 2022


In December 2018, a 31-year-old man allegedly kicked a 1-year-old boy in a Wichita, Kansas, grocery store while yelling racist slurs at the toddler’s Black family.


In June 2021, a former Marine allegedly punched a Black 19-year-old who is autistic in a Chicago grocery store and shouted that “white people built this country.”


And three months ago, in March, Rose Wysocki had an uncomfortable encounter with an 18-year-old white man at Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo, New York.


Wysocki, a produce manager at the store, had just helped the man locate an item in the produce section when he told Wysocki that she “didn’t belong” in the majority Black store.


“I was just like, ‘Why do you say that?’” Wysocki told NBC News. The man replied that Wysocki, who is also white, looked like she belonged “in the suburbs.”


“When he turned around and went to walk away, he called me a n----- lover.”


Two months later, police said that same man returned to the same store and shot and killed 10 Black people as they shopped. The Department of Justice has charged the suspected shooter, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, with 26 counts of hate crimes and firearms offenses. The charges carry the potential of the death penalty.


The mass shooting in Buffalo is the latest in a wave of racism and hate that has swept over grocery stores across the country in the past decade, a trend that data shows has greatly accelerated since the start of the pandemic in 2020.


According to an NBC News analysis of FBI hate crime data from the last 10 years, more than 160 hate crimes were recorded at grocery stores in 2020, 65% more than in 2019 and four times as many as in 2010...


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