by VICKY KUSHNER
(ROCHESTER NY--) Shea Lundy was getting ready to head to work on September 18th when he stopped at the 7-Eleven at 4320 Culver Road for a cup of coffee, kids and wife--Shaniece Jones--in tow.
Lundy says he paid for his coffee before circling back on the hunt for an iced coffee machine he may have missed. Finding none, he headed for the exit.
It was then that he was confronted by the owner of the 7-Eleven.
“As I’m exiting the door, the guy, he’s running from I guess the aisle, the guy accuses me of stealing coffee,” Lundy says.
Lundy says he indicated he paid, shrugged his shoulders, and proceeded to the parking lot.
“I kept walking and as I exit the door he comes from behind and he grabs my shirt. He pulls me towards him and then the coffee goes everywhere,” Lundy explains.
“I snatch my shoulder away from him, he’s trying to get in a fighting stance, so I get in a fighting stance, and I hit him in self defense and then he ain't want no problems after that, because the [Sea Breeze Assistant] Fire Chief was there and Shaniece was there. And she came in, they came in between us after the initial swing, and tried to figure out what was going on.”
In a cellphone video recorded by Lundy’s wife shortly after the scuffle, Lundy is clearly shown on the 7-Eleven security camera footage at the counter paying the owner's wife. The scuffle in the parking lot described above is also partially visible in the video, though difficult to make out.
Lundy says the incident is a clear case of racial profiling and discrimination.
“I walked out right behind [the white Fire Chief]. Why you didn't chase him and ask him, did he pay for it? Why did you just stop me?” Lundy says. “You discriminated against me, you think because I am Black with dreads that I got a reason to steal [...] You’re stereotyping me because you see my physical appearance and it makes you think whatever you choose to think.”
A phone message requesting comment from the 7-Eleven owner Tuesday morning was not immediately returned.
Lundy says the owner also violated 7-Eleven policies around what to do in cases of suspected shoplifting. Lundy says he knows, because he is a former employee of the franchise.
“Why is this man still the owner of a franchise when your policy and procedure and rules is you don’t grab, you don't touch [...] You call the police, whatever you have to do, but you do not touch nobody, you do not chase nobody, you do not harass them, you do not assault them, you do not racially profile them. He did every thing, all of those things, and he is still a store owner,” Lundy says.
One week after the incident, the group E.R.A.S.E. (Eliminating Racism and Seeking Equality in Irondequoit) shared a call to action on Facebook, urging community members to show up to a rally at the 7-Eleven this past Saturday morning to “raise awareness and demand action in response to a racist attack committed right here in Irondequoit.”
During that rally, Shaniece Jones stood at the intersection shouting into a megaphone, “They racially profiled my husband and what do I want?” A masked crowd of approximately fifty had gathered to answer the call with “Justice!”
Lundy’s son Shea, who witnessed the altercation with the 7-Eleven owner, also spoke at the event.
"If my dad paid for his coffee why would you lunge at him for no reason? Cause Black lives always matter, every time. I just want to say, why would you lunge at my dad?”
The implications of accusing a Black man of a crime in America were not lost on Shea, despite his age.
”If you took my dad away, what I have to do? What would happen?” Shea asked. “Thank you, thank you everybody for supporting us."
The family says they plan to pursue a case against the 7-Eleven owner and would like to see it classified as a hate crime.
However, they say the Irondequoit Police Department has told them the incident does not rise to the level of assault, although it does meet criteria for harassment charges.
As of Sunday, no charges had been filed.
VICKY KUSHNER is a photographer and volunteer reporter for Reclaiming the Narrative. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org