A leading NAACP officer in Minnesota on Wednesday condemned as “a threat to the black community” the actions of a white fast-food employee who is accused of falsely telling police that a masked black man robbed her of hundreds of dollars and assaulted her, authorities said.
The 41-year-old woman working for Subway in Waite Park is being investigated for stealing more than $700 and filing a false police report, Police Chief David Bentrud said Tuesday.
The woman, who lives in nearby Rice, told police on Dec. 28 that she was robbed about 7:45 a.m. while walking to her vehicle from the Subway in the 1300 block of 2nd Street S. She reported that a man approached her, knocked her down, took the bag of money she was carrying and then fled north from the restaurant.
She described the perpetrator as black and wearing a black jacket, a black mask, bluejeans and white gym shoes.
Responding officers immediately started looking for fresh footprints in the area but saw none, according to emergency dispatch audio.
Anika Bowie, vice president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, said “residents who falsely accuse black people to cover up their criminal behavior are not only a threat to public safety but a threat to the black community.”
Bowie pointed to the case in Duluth in 1920, when black men Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie were falsely accused of raping a white woman, were grabbed by a white mob and lynched.
“Nearly 100 years later, we still live in a society where black lives are threatened by the false accusations of white people in Minnesota.”
Bentrud, whose department has 18 sworn officers, lamented that the Subway worker’s report meant “a lot of extra work for what amounted to an employee theft.”
The chief said the woman admitted to making up the account and spending the money, a little more than $700, on personal bills.
“She lied, and video from area businesses corroborated that she lied,” Bentrud said. “And she’ll pay some consequences for what she did.”
Potential charges against the woman include a gross misdemeanor for the theft and a misdemeanor for filing the false report. The woman, whose identity was released by police, has yet to be arrested or charged. The Star Tribune generally does not identify suspects unless they are charged.
An assistant manager at the Subway said Tuesday that the woman was still employed at the restaurant. The franchised outlet’s owner, Richard Tomczik, issued a statement saying, “Everyone is welcomed and treated with respect in my restaurant. In addition to the police investigation, I am looking into the incident and will take appropriate action.”