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Published on Nov 19, 2009
Black Folk can't be judged by white Jury Anymo Heather Ellis, a preachers daughter is in court Thursday over a three year dispute that happened at a Walmart in Missouri. Heather Ellis, now 24 is an African American woman who has been charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace, and faces up to 15 years in prison.
Customers said that Ellis cut in line at a Walmart, and some people in the store began to make racial slurs at her, the cashier refused to give her change back, and police were called. 5 (white) police officers and 4 witnesses at Walmart have the same story; that Ellis was belligerent and disturbing the peace.
The only video of the incident was taken outside the Walmart store and it shows a mob of people following the police officers back out to their car. Video of the incident has not been released.
Ellis, who was with her cousin at the time have very different stories about what happened. Ellis claims that the cashier wouldnt give her change back and asked for her identification even though she was paying with cash, and the situation escalated from there. Ellis said she was discriminated against by the police officers at the scene, and that they passed a Ku Klux Klan card onto her (seen in the video below), and she viewed that as a threat.
Heather Ellis has no prior record of arrest, she is a preachers daughter, she is a school teacher, and she is currently engaged to a police officer. Ellis is being supported by a local civil liberties group that said that 13% of the population is African American, and that this case does show racial bias in the town.
Racism in the United States is still rampant especially in communities that are mostly white with a lower population of African American residents. In Utah, almost 90% of the population is white, and African Americans make up less than 1% of the population. Many African Americans feel uncomfortable in the state partly because they are such a small minority, and some have said because people stare at them.