The suspects were arrested Thursday night and charged with a hate crime for the #ShoppingWhileBlack incident at Walmart.
At a Walmart in West Monroe, La., two white men, Dylan Reynolds, 22, and Michael Walters, 24, followed a Black female shopper to her car.
When she was approached, she quickly threw her groceries in her car, as the men shouted racial slurs, including the n-word. As she drove away, they ran after her, hurling more slurs and even a shopping cart at her car.
Walmart surveillance cameras caught the two men on tape in the store, and after a police call out for information about the suspects, social media quickly identified the men, including the getaway car, a gray Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck that was seen on Reynolds' Facebook page.
On Thursday night, the two men were apprehended after a two-week manhunt for them, and booked into Ouachita Correctional Center. Bond is set at $20,000 for each man. The hate crime charge, if deemed a felony, is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Because she slowed for "speed bumps" in the parking lot, one of the men was able to strike her car with the shopping cart, causing over $1,000 in damages.
Walmart has yet to comment on the safety issue at their store.
Crimes that fall under Louisiana's hate crime law include: battery; aggravated battery; second degree battery; simple or aggravated criminal damage to property.
The account of the incident by police was on the arrest warrant:
"On 11/29/2018 the West Monroe Police Department was dispatched to Walmart (1025 Glenwood Drive West Monroe, LA) in reference to a disturbance/property damage call for service. Upon arrival, it was learned a black female victim was terrorized while exiting the store in the parking lot area of the business for no apparent reason. While the victim was leaving the store and attempting to load her purchased items in her vehicle, she was confronted by two white males. While in the parking lot the victim was yelled at and called a "n- - - - -". The female rushed the items in her vehicle and tried to escape the two white males while they were yelling racial slurs at her. As the victim fled the scene in her vehicle, one of the two white males chased after her on foot while pushing an empty shopping cart. The male violently crashed the shopping cart into the rear end area of the victim's vehicle as she slowed for "speed bumps" in the parking lot near the front entrance area of the business. That aggravated damage to the victim's vehicle not only caused her over one thousand dollars in damages to her vehicle but put her safety at risk while driving away from the two aggressors as well. After the damages were performed, both males got into a dark gray Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck and fled the area at a high rate of speed."
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"I am an intelligent Black woman that has made a seat at the table," Karla Ferguson told DiversityInc. "My influence matters and that scares those that have to resort to fear tactics."
During Miami Art Week, one of the city's busiest times of the year, a Black-owned art gallery in Little Haiti was vandalized with a spray-painted swastika and profanity.
Karla Ferguson, owner of Yeelen Gallery, realized on Saturday morning there was a hate symbol defacing the outside of the building.
"An officer was actually parked outside the building and I went up to his squad car and told him that he had to take a look," Ferguson told DiversityInc. "He was visibly concerned and sympathetic to what it represented.
"I was told by the officer that this was likely going to be seen as a hate crime as the words 'destroy,' 'f**k' and the swastika were visible."
Ferguson, who is also an attorney, is well known in the area for creating a space to celebrate artists of color that the traditional art world usually doesn't include. She said she has "taken the business to the next level," now known as the Yeelen Group.
"Yeelen promotes diversity we tell the stories of marginalized groups, we stand for women's empowerment, we tell the stories from an African Diaspora perspective, LGBTQ rights and civil rights in general are represented when it comes to our exhibition programming," explained Ferguson.
"For the hateful that don't feel that we all deserve to be treated with respect, that don't feel civil rights are to be upheld we could be seen as a threat. We are about valuing marginalized people and showing the worth and humanity of their contributions to society."
Karla Ferguson, CEO, Yeelen Group
This is the first time a symbol of hate and threats have been directed toward her business. As Miami Art Week brings people all over the country into the area, it could have been locals or an outside influence.
Ferguson, whose business headquarters has been in Little Haiti since 2013, chose the neighborhood that is an area of Caribbean immigrants and locally owned shops, before gentrification started to occur.
Her activism through art and consulting is "aimed at providing exhibition and economic opportunities for all artists and particularly those that ask the tough questions, those that challenge our thinking and question inequities."
As a Black woman and an activist, Ferguson said being confronted with hate during a time when it's on the rise across the country only "reinforces that what I do is important, that I am on the right path."
Last month, in Los Angeles, four swastikas were found painted across the face of a Crenshaw mural depicting Black women.
"I am an intelligent Black woman that has made a seat at the table," Ferguson said. "My influence matters and that scares those that have to resort to fear tactics. I am the immigrant, the American Dream and there are people in our society that would love nothing more than to roll back the hands of time to when those that looked like me were considered three-fifths a human by law."
The difficult part for Ferguson was explaining the symbol of hate to her young daughters.
"They were upset; it makes them feel unsafe," she said. "I had to explain to my youngest what a swastika is and what it stands for. I reminded her that there are people who believe that one type of person is superior to others and that such thinking is wrong and ignorant. I told them that their ancestors survived far worse to make their lives possible and that we will continue to fight oppression and hold our heads up high while we do it.
"They know that I'm a fighter and they also know that they are as well, so we fight, we will continue to thrive, we Boss up."
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