The announcement, "Attention Wal-Mart Shoppers, Will All The Black People Please Leave The Store. Thank you." is thought to be a prank not necessarily committed by Wal-Mart employees. They are cooperating with the police to find the prankster, but lack of video coveradge means the prospects of finding the culprit are not high.
""Attention, Wal-Mart shoppers," she recalled hearing the calm male voice begin. "Will all the black people please leave the store. Thank you."
Her shock turned to anger, Arter said, when more than five awkward and frightening minutes elapsed before management at the Wal-Mart in Turnersville came on the public address system.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is cooperating with the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office and Washington Township police, which are investigating the event as a possible racial-intimidation crime. More than 10 African Americans have signed a complaint with police.
"We're just as appalled by this as anyone," said Ashley Hardie, a spokeswoman for the discount-store chain, "and anyone who did this was wrong."
Law enforcement is examining surveillance tapes inside the store. But the P.A. system can be accessed from 25 telephones in the building, and not all are within camera range, said Bernie Weisenfeld, spokesman for the prosecutor.
The 24-hour superstore has about 700 employees, many of them part-time, and some of the store's phones are accessible to the public, Weisenfeld said."