In a series of TikTok videos, three Black women detailed how they were falsely accused of shoplifting at a T.J. Maxx in New Jersey.
The police officer's repeatedly changing story left the women and TikTok commenters outraged by what they deemed a clear act of racial bias and racial profiling.
The incident began when the women left the T.J. Maxx store with their purchases in hand. While walking to their car in the parking lot, they were stopped by a police officer who claimed he received a call accusing the women of being "suspicious."
This shocked the women, who'd purchased the items only moments before.
In the first video, which has attracted 2.6 million views on TikTok, the women were forced to watch as the police officer directed the store clerk to check all of their receipts.
It also showed how the police officer's story changed drastically. At first he told them someone called him to report the women, but upon entering the store he claimed nobody called him.
The police officer attempted to downplay the situation:
"Listen, I got told that there was shoplifting, so that's why I'm here. If there's no problem, then there's no problem."
The women then reminded him of one other important, humane detail—how extremely embarrassing his false accusations were for them.
To hammer home their frustration, the women decided to return everything they purchased.
TikTokers who saw the video were outraged as well.
In the second video, the saga continued.
At this point, however, a Black man entered the situation to defend the women when the police officer attempted to cast doubt on their story by citing the fact they had five receipts.
He called out the logic.
"I can use a million American Express if I wanted to. I could use a black one, I could use a silver one, I could use a gold one."
TikTokers heaped praise on the man for stepping in.
yung money ess/TikTok
The third and final video made it clear just how jumbled up the officer's story had become after so many questions and his changing answers.
For TikTokers, it was all very clear.
When the Daily Dotreached out to T.J. Maxx for comment, the store distanced itself from the actions of the police officer.
"We can confirm that the plain clothes detective and police officers seen on this video do not work for our company, and that the Associates working in our store did not initiate these actions."
"Involvement from our Associates was at the direct request of law enforcement."
T.J. Maxx has made headlines before and was forced to apologize to a Black Connecticut family for racial profiling.
Clearly, nobody is owning up to who was behind the unfair treatment of these Black women.But one thing is clear. For those women, a simple trip to the store turned into a very stressful, embarrassing afternoon just because of the way someone decided they "looked."