Chicago Wal-Mart bans gay couple

Posted by J.D. On Wednesday, November 11, 2009 2 comments
I have written about Wal-Mart in the past but this story is a new low.

Joe Paolucci and his partner Thomas Hitchcock were shopping at Wal-Mart with their two special-needs 11-year-old twin sons . Their sons were adopted from Romania. Paolucci claims that the Wal-Mart trip was to purchase groceries and reward the twins for good behavior.

Hitchcock bought groceries totaling some $200 and checked out at a counter operated by a cashier. Paolucci, meanwhile, went to a self-checkout lane to use scanning equipment he had operated before.

Later, he said, he returned to the shopping area to pick up additional items, including the lighters, which he scanned and placed in bags. He grabbed his receipt for the items, totaling some $60, and headed for the exit, as did Hitchcock and the boys.

Before they got outside, store employees stopped them.

"They asked if I had Bic lighters. I said, 'Yes,' and handed them over," Paolucci said. "Then they asked if I had a receipt. I said, 'Yes, you're holding it.' Then this group of Wal-Mart employees started forming around us."

Paolucci and Hitchcock said the employees were threatening and that one used a vulgarity. Their accusations frightened the boys, who began "crying, screaming and freaking out," they said.

At this point, the Wal-Mart employees attempted to maneuver the men into a "detention room" which the men refused. Paolucci claims that he and Hitchcock demanded that someone call the police. When the police arrived, things escalated.

When the police arrived, Paolucci was handcuffed and placed in a squad car. Hitchcock, too, was placed in a separate squad car albeit without being handcuffed. The boys were placed in the "detention room" with store employees.

Paolucci and Hitchcock estimated it was at least 45 minutes before officers told them they had reviewed the store's tapes and had determined that the lighters hadn't been shoplifted. The two said they expected an apology and were surprised once again when personnel from the store walked up to the squad cars with the twins and read from a statement that Paolucci and Hitchcock had been banned by the store chain for life. Rather than shoplifting, the reason they were given was "being uncooperative."

"Everything they asked us to do, we did. We cooperated 100 percent," Paolucci argued. "We objected only when they tried to get us to go into the detention room."

By the time they were read the statement, Paolucci and Hitchcock said, the twins had told them that the security staff had allegedly threatened them in the security room and had made disparaging remarks about Paolucci and Hitchcock's lifestyle. Paolucci and Hitchcock said they asked police to take statements from the boys but the officers refused, telling the couple they'd have to contact Child Protective Services.

So the police wouldn't help them...and Wal-Mart banned them.

The couple purchased frozen grocery items like pizza and ice cream which by this time had melted. Wal-Mart refused to replace those items.

But was there actually ever any theft?

As for the shoplifting accusation, a copy of the police report obtained by The Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act stated that video surveillance clearly showed Paolucci scanning both packages of lighters.

So Paolucci didn't actually steal anything.

But this is Wal-Mart we are talking about here. So later Paolucci and Hitchcock received a letter from a lawfirm representing Wal-Mart...and the letter demanded $158.40 to cover the "theft". The lighters that weren't stolen retail at $15.84.


Anonymous said...

Misleading headline: The weren't booted for being queer, more likely their being queer probably leads them to believe that they have license to act like assholes.

Since when is there a process by which these adoptions take place. Can I go to the Philippines and adopt twin 15 year old B-girls?

J.D. said...

I note that you are anonymous whilst being an asshole. How courageous.

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