Racial comment at N.J. Walmart investigated as possible bias crime

New York City A racial comment made over the public-address system at a Walmart store in Washington Township in southern New Jersey, is being investigated as a possible bias crime, a prosecutor's office said Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

A male voice came over the system Sunday evening and calmly announced: "Attention, Walmart customers: All black people, leave the store now."

The announcement, at the Washington Township store, provoked an immediate apology from the store manager and a promise from company officials to try to determine how it happened.

Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton began an investigation Monday. His office said in a statement Thursday that some of the system phones are accessible to the public and not all are in range of security cameras.

Investigators said the announcement could have been made from any of about two dozen phones inside the store. They reviewed video from store cameras, but did not disclose what, if anything, was discovered.

Meanwhile, Lorenzo Lopez, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Stores, said the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer was working to reduce the number of phones accessible to the public and with public-address capabilities.

Company officials have said the announcement was "unacceptable."


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