GENESEO – A customer at Geneseo Walmart said he was asked to leave the store by an employee Sunday because he was wearing a Back the Blue t-shirt in support of members of law enforcement.
During an interview on the Bob Lonsberry Show Tuesday, Joshua Ville said he was shopping for school supplies with his daughter when a store employee came up to him and asked him to leave.
“They said my shirt, which says ‘AP: We Back the Blue,’ was offensive to the customers and employees,” Ville told Lonsberry. “I have a lot of friends and stuff down there - I thought it was just someone joking with me. They walked away, I continued to go in the store and shop for my child.”
Ville told Lonsberry he’s employed by AP Enterprises, a property services company based in the town of Ontario, Wayne County.
A little while later, said Ville, the same employee again came up and asked him to leave.
“I had my daughter with me, didn’t want no trouble or headaches, so we paid for our stuff and we left,” said Ville. “… I sat in the car, and my daughter’s asking me ‘What’d we do wrong?’ I don’t know what to tell her other than, you know, there’s good people and bad people in the world. I mean I don’t feel we did anything wrong… it upset me for sure. It upset her.”
Lonsberry asked Ville whether the associate was young or old.
“Younger,” Ville answered, without elaborating.
Lonsberry asked Ville whether the associate looked like a manager, or maybe a cashier.
“Just an associate,” Ville answered. “I don’t believe it was a manager or anybody.”
A Walmart spokesperson pushed back against Ville’s allegation Wednesday morning, saying the company looked into his version of events “and has been unable to find anything to substantiate it.”
The spokesperson declined to comment further.
To listen to Lonsberry’s full interview of Ville, click here.
A Geneseo Walmart employee who spoke to the County News on the condition of anonymity said after learning of the alleged incident, they contacted every fellow employee who was working Sunday that they could think of but that no one knew “a word about it.”
“That’s just so against all corporate policy, I’m having a hard time believing that one,” said the employee, who was not working Sunday when the incident allegedly occurred.
Walmart’s store in Geneseo has “more than 30” security cameras, said the employee. In the event the company is trying to learn more about how an incident unfolded inside the store, it is common operating procedure to thoroughly review any relevant footage captured by those cameras, said the employee.
According to the employee, if a Walmart associate were to ask a customer to leave because of a message on their t-shirt, that associate would be fired “on the spot.”
“We don’t have that flexibility,” said the employee. “That would have to be a call made by Sam (Fichera), the store manager.”
The employee said it’s common for Walmart customers to wear clothing with messages written on them – some of them vulgar. The employee said they couldn’t think of a single time when a customer has been asked to leave the store because of a message on their t-shirt.
The County News could not reach Ville for comment Tuesday or Wednesday.
A woman named Melissa who identified herself as Geneseo Walmart’s co-store manager declined to comment Tuesday.