Shoshana Litvack says that, as a legally blind person, she must live with certain inconveniences – but she will no longer be publicly humiliated. (File photo)

LETTERS: This can’t be the price of security

Editor: As a disabled person, about once a year I get accused of theft.

Editor:

I was refused service last month at a local independent liquor store. I was accused of a theft that had allegedly taken place months or possibly years prior, publicly humiliated, insulted, bullied and told I was banned.

Sadly, as a visually impaired person navigating my world, this was not the first time such an accusation has been levelled against me. Because I need to carry my life on my back as I move through my day on public transit, I am always carrying a number of totes and parcels. I also look at things very closely and sometimes move awkwardly. That is just the nature of my visual impairment, and the way I need to live my life. It should never be cause for suspicion, discrimination or abuse.

Following last month’s incident, which left me gutted, shaken and humiliated, I learned that such retail profiling is common practice. Store employees are taught to look for non-mainstream behaviour and call it out as theft. What staff are not taught, however, is how to appropriately manage the situation from there.

READ: Legally blind runner takes aim at running challenge

READ: Legally blind runner surpasses her goal

I respect every business’s right to protect itself from any violation. As an individual, I should be afforded the same respect. Were there any question of my having taken anything, ever, I would hope they would address the situation in a respectful and discreet manner. Instead, and sadly not for the first time, I was met with arrogance, accusation and disbelief. My integrity was questioned and my reputation tarnished in the neighbourhood in which I work, live and parent.

I think retail profiling, like all other profiling, should be used with tremendous care and sensitivity, and that employees, if taught to identify potential thieves, should be taught how to handle their suspicions in a way that is non-confrontational, non-discriminatory and not public.

Over the years, as a disabled person, certain things have become commonplace: My feet are always wet because I can’t see puddles. I panic when buses approach, hoping I will know to get on the right one. And, about once a year, I get accused of theft.

I have been living, working, volunteering, fundraising and raising children in the South Surrey community for seven years. My comfort/adaptation and reputation have been hard-fought. I will not allow my reputation to be sullied by either poor training or rogue management. And I won’t have my health or self-esteem be compromised by even one more incident of retail profiling, public humiliation and character-assassination.

Shoshana Litvack, Surrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Surrey church to host drive-thru food-donation station

Items dropped off to Mount Olive Lutheran Church to benefit Surrey Urban Mission program

Cloverdale youth pastor’s sexual-assault sentencing delayed

Samuel Emerson due to return to Surrey Provincial Court in August

Cloverdale businessman funds wells in Cambodia

Revive Washing in Clayton Heights donates three per cent of profits to charity

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension faces potential delays due to COVID-19

Pandemic ‘adversely’ impacting TransLink’s finances; ‘much work’ required to approve next investment plan

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

B.C. woman launches First Nations search, rescue and patrol program

Linda Peters envisions trained searchers ready to go at moment’s notice in each B.C. First Nation

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

VIDEO: Police look for suspect seen tripping elderly woman in Burnaby

The elderly woman was walking near the SkyTrain station when she was randomly tripped

Chilliwack teachers, assistants concerned with lack of PPE guidelines ahead of school reopening

As schools get ready to open, many worry measures won’t be enough to protect students from COVID-19

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

Most Read

l -->