Is Safeway safe for Black customers?

Maurice-Berry-and-family-at-Disneyland, Is Safeway safe for Black customers?, Featured Local News & Views
Maurice Berry along with his wife and young daughter were the victims of anti-Blackness. 

by Zaire Saunders

San Francisco – On Oct. 18, 2023, a family was subjected to a hate incident involving an employee at Safeway. Maurice Berry, who has been a loyal customer of the Diamond Heights Safeway located in the Diamond Heights shopping center, was verbally accosted and was startled by the outburst.  

According to Berry, the family stopped by Safeway on their way to take his daughter to school. Berry had a question for an employee and looked around to see who was available to help him. Suddenly, someone behind the counter at the deli, apparently an employee, began to call Berry rude and a “monkey.”

There is footage of the incident, taken by Berry and encouraged by his wife Brianna Mcgee. During the 3-minute-and-18-second-long video, Maurice Berry is chastised by the employee who holds up a knife and mockingly repeats the offensive language, speaking without remorse for his actions. 

Safeway-Employee-screenshot-of-calling-a-customer-a-monkey, Is Safeway safe for Black customers?, Featured Local News & Views
The response of two managers from the Diamond Heights Safeway location was to avoid the issue.

The family garnered attention from security, who made no attempts to help Berry, but instead stood by while the man behind the counter, who is Asian, continued to call Maurice “monkey” and taunt him, saying, “Come on, Monkey. I am not scared of you!” 

Finally the manager showed up but only offered an apology and made Berry’s sandwich to redress his grievance. The humiliation didn’t end there: Police also failed to support Berry when they arrived. According to Berry, they said dismissively, “Back your ass away. You have your sandwich.”

Ironically, when you call the Diamond Heights Safeway, you are met with an automated voice saying, “Thank you for calling our friendly neighborhood Safeway.” To my questions about the incident, deli manager Shao’s response was anything but friendly. Avoidant, yes.

When I was finally able to get in contact with the manager of the entire store, she too was avoidant and offered “no comment” and that she had “nothing to say about that” to the charges of anti-Blackness.

The manager said that the associate was actually employed by a sushi company called AFC, information that should have been given to Maurice at the time of the incident. It had been too long a wait for this man to be fired and held accountable for his actions. When I spoke with an AFC representative, they also failed to provide any answers and quickly hung up the phone.

Brianna Mcgee, dissatisfied with the responses as well, had this to say: “African Americans should be able to shop and receive quality services anywhere in the world. This incident was reckless on behalf of Safeway and AFC because it shows poor representation of their staff. Maurice’s experience can’t go unnoticed and needs awareness.”

Go HERE to watch the footage of Maurice Berry being called a monkey by a Safeway employee.

Bay View writer and copy editor Zaire Saunders can be reached at