LAKEVIEW — A woman apparently enraged by a suggestion she buy a larger grocery bag for her Michaels purchases unleashed her fury on two employees at the Lakeview store the day before Thanksgiving.
Several people recorded the episode in videos that have since gone viral, during which the customer calls a black cashier "an animal" and suggests that the cashier and the manager, who are both African-American, are discriminating against her because she voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election.
During the 10-minute YouTube video — which had nearly 150,000 views as of Monday morning — the woman berates bystanders for recording her and declares that Michaels' corporate offices are "going to have a s--- show" after she reports the alleged discrimination.
Ariel Cheung talks about the bizarre customer rant at Michael's
Michaels said in a statement to DNAinfo that the store does not tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind against employees or customers.
"We regret that our customers and team members were affected by this unfortunate incident and are grateful for the leadership of our store team in working to resolve it without further escalation," said Michaels.
Jessie Grady, a witness who posted the YouTube video and subsequently launched a GoFundMe on Saturday, said she was at the store to buy a Santa hat for her 2-year-old daughter when she saw the woman making a scene.
Grady only managed to capture the 10 minutes seen in the video, but she said the woman used various racial and homophobic slurs before the recording began.
"But the manager was so calm," Grady said. "Her tone never changed."
Grady said the "racist temper tantrum" lasted about 45 minutes and many customers stood by the manager throughout the whole ordeal to await police.
"You don't see it in the video, but people were standing up," Grady said. "I'm happy that the community came out and showed that we care about her."
The woman seen yelling in the video said she called police multiple times, as did other customers. When officers arrived 45 minutes into the rant, the woman left, Grady said. Chicago Police said they had no information about the incident when asked Sunday.
As of Tuesday afternoon, a GoFundMe started by Grady for the store manager has raised more than $25,000, far more than her original $400 goal. Grady said the donations will help "make it up to the employee who was the main target of this racist attack."
"So many people know this employee and she means so much for the community," Grady said. "I want to use this money to empower her. She needs to have her voice."
According to Grady, the manager is an "inspiring" and "creative" woman who put her small design business on hold to work as a manager at Michaels to support her family.
As part of her small business, she knits scarves and hats for homeless teens in Chicago every year, Grady said. The manager also told Grady she wants to obtain a degree in psychology so she can become a guidance counselor for the city's youth.
Grady said the manager told her, "This happens to me all the time."
Based on her exchange with the manager, who is heard off screen trying to calm the woman and stop her from swearing and screaming, the woman in the video was upset that a cashier "tried to force me to buy" a larger bag for her purchases:
"When I asked for my things to be bagged, and I don't care about the size of the bag, this other woman makes a big deal about it," she says in the video. "She's screaming at me from across the godd--- store like an animal."
She turns to the other employee and adds, "You're an animal."
After she declined to buy a larger bag, the woman said the manager said, "Ma'am, we're all human," which the customer said she took as a "some sort of liberal lecture about who is human."
"Your job is to ring people up and tell them to have a nice day," the customer says. "You're not going to give me a psychology lesson. You are not going to tell me who I can vote for and who I can't vote for."
After several more minutes of the customer's profanity-laced speech, the manager tells her she "cannot talk like that in the store" because there are children within earshot.
The woman retorts that, "You're not my mother, and I will do whatever I want to do."
As she berates the employees because "I am a paying customer," the manager says she will not be welcome on the property in the future.
"Ma'am, we have surveillance. You cannot come back to our store," the manager is heard saying. "This has to stop. I have a store to run."
And though the customer threatened to contact Michaels corporate about the incident, Grady said she too reached out and was told the company was standing by its employees in the matter.
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