By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
The column about E.D. Marshall Jewelers ("Overdressed," Barry Graham, May 21) is incomplete and misleading. Accusing or even inferring that someone is a racist is very serious. Racists enjoy letting people know their feelings. I am not a racist, and I am quite upset with this portrayal of me.
What wasn't reflected in Graham's column was that my store had received a call from another area jeweler who had been visited by the man in question. This jeweler had been robbed at gunpoint recently by two well-dressed black men--one of five Valley jewelry stores that has been so victimized recently. The man in question matched the description of those robbers, so the jeweler took down the man's license number and called the police. Somehow, the wrong license number was given to the police, and when the license number did not come back as matching the man's car, the police and the jeweler had reason to believe the man was driving a stolen car.
When E.D. Marshall Jewelers got this call from the other jeweler, we also were told that the man in question had been to at least four other jewelry stores in the area.
Bottom line: When this man entered my store, we had reason to believe he was a suspect in jewelry-store robberies and that he was driving a stolen car. That's why we alerted the police, not because of his skin color.
E.D. Marshall and company are not prejudiced, and we have never called the police because someone was black. After it was determined that he was not driving a stolen car, I escorted this gentleman back into the jewelry store. I explained to the victim he was wearing a black three-piece suit in very warm weather and matched the description of a jewelry-store robber. Guns were carried under long coats in the armed robberies. This prompted jewelers to call the police with his license number.
The black male in this story was the victim of a bad set of circumstances--someone either gave or received an erroneous license plate number, and this made him appear to be a car thief.
I personally apologized for the ugly incident to the victim for all of the area jewelers. Please keep in mind the victim was welcomed into the store and treated with respect both before and after he spoke to the police.
The term "No Nigger Zone" is unfamiliar to me, and I do not wish to have this disgusting phrase associated with me, my company, and Scottsdale, where my business is located.
I have numerous friends and customers who are black. Now I am the victim of the same type of ugly incident that happened to the article's subject!
As we travel through life, we all encounter bad situations; some things just can't be avoided. What we can do is treat each other with respect and try to be decent human beings by being friendly and helping our fellow man when we see the need. I have strong personal convictions regarding prejudice. I judge a man by his qualities, such as intelligence and morals, not by his skin color.
The public is invited to my store, and every potential customer is given equal respect, no exceptions.
I hope this factual account of events will instill a little more faith in Scottsdale. I never want to be labeled as prejudiced; it is an ignorant way to go through life.
E.D. Marshall Jewelers
The article by Barry Graham, "Overdressed," in the May 21 issue, did more than raise my eyebrows to continued reports of subtle or blatant racism in Scottsdale. I find it interesting that the cops were called because the gentleman described in the column was wearing a suit and the store owner did not like the looks of the customer. It angers me that we are approaching the new millennium and that people of color are still having to put up with stupid behavior--and that the police, who are supposed to serve and protect all citizens, promote and support this behavior. Not liking the way a person looks and dresses is a poor excuse for continued racist behavior by some of the residents and policemen in Scottsdale and the rest of this country. When will we learn to get along and value each other for our differences?
As I turned to "Overdressed" and caught the illustration and heading sound bite, I was led to believe that this would be another critique of the Scottsdale Police Department. As I read through the article, however, it seemed to focus more on the jewelry store than the police department.
Given that there have been numerous jewelry-store armed robberies over the last year across the Valley, I think that if whoever called felt that there was a suspicious person in the store, then they should call the police. Citizens assist the police in cities all across the nation every day by calling in "suspicious" persons.
As I read about the police response, it seemed reasonable to me. The information given to the police showed that the car the person was driving was stolen. I would expect that the threat level when dealing with someone in a stolen car would be higher, as law-abiding citizens don't usually drive around in stolen cars.