Two Rivers Lawsuit Claims Sacker Violates Customer's Religious Freedom
By Seria Dassing firstname.lastname@example.org
Aug. 2, 2012 at 9:45 a.m.
The Big Sandy & Hawkins Journal does not normally report on lawsuits that involve individuals and businesses, but sometimes unusual circumstances create "newsworthy situations." Readers who wish to comment may do so on our website, or to my email, but must include their name and the city they live in.
DeWitt R. Thomas, who has a Hawkins address, filed a federal lawsuit against Two Rivers Grocery Store & Market in Big Sandy because he believes his civil rights and religious freedom were violated when an African American sacker touched his groceries against his wishes.
Thomas filed the nine page hand-written lawsuit with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, and is representing himself.
On page three of his nine page hand-written lawsuit the following statement is included:
Listed as Item 14, Sec. C. General Factual Allegations
"DeWitt R. Thomas said: "Wait a minute, don't touch my groceries. I can't have someone negroidal touch my food, it's against my creed!"
Thomas mentions is the paragraphs that follow the cashier was perplexed, and he had to explain what he meant to her. His statement says the sacker called for help up front and "a female in a white coat stepped out of the front office and told him to "Get your ….(expletive)…out and get out of here." Thomas then says she called him a "……(expletive) idiot, repeatedly.
Thomas states in his suit that he kept saying "It is against my creed." Then in Item 29, he stated, "Religion….religion, ma'am. It is against my religion."
He said he was allowed to complete the transaction but only after "the female in the white coat attempted to proselytize, DeWitt R. Thomas into her own creed"……and she said "God loves everybody".
This incident took place "on or about March 5, 2012" and Thomas visited Two Rivers again on March 7, 2012 to purchase beverages and the same sacker came to handle the beverages. Item 39, Sect. C of the lawsuit said, "Once again, DeWitt R. Thomas, requested that the Negro not handle his groceries."
Keith Langston, the owner of Two Rivers, talked to Thomas. He acknowledged Thomas had been a customer for a long time. Item 49 quotes Langston saying "I can't do the racism." Langston told The Journal "I am not going to allow racism of any form in this store." The Big Sandy Police Department was called. The doors to the building were locked. Langston said during an interview the doors were locked because it was closing time, and they are always locked at that time. Thomas claims he was locked in against his will.
Langston's legal response admitted the door was locked until police arrived, but denied Thomas had expressed a desire to leave. Thomas was not allowed to complete the purchase of the beverages; so he is saying he was denied services because of his "request for religious accommodation". The Big Sandy Police Department issued a "Criminal Trespass Warning" to Thomas.
Thomas maintains in his lawsuit that he was discriminated against because of his religion, and denied services without justification. Item 71 states he has suffered various injuries to his liberty interests and demands judgment for nominal damages.
When asked what religion he was during an interview, Thomas stated, "Vedism Braminism". A quick google of the topic brought up a very complicated and detailed lesson that is too long to describe in a newspaper story. Thomas quoted verses from Deuteronomy and Genesis, and called with a reference to Leviticus 22:25 "and you must not accept such animals from the hand of a foreigner and offer them as the food of your God. They will not be accepted on your behalf, because they are deformed and have defects."
He said he has been practicing this religion for about two years and has studied the Hebrew language and reads the Bible using a concordance and Hebrew and Greek dictionary. He also quoted a verse from Jeremiah 13:23 that says "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil." Thomas cross-referenced the word Ethiopian with the term Hebrew Cushite.
Basically, Thomas says his religion prevents him from "striking hands" with an "Untouchable", which is what he considers African Americans. He also states it is against his religion for an African American person (not the term he uses) to touch his food.
When asked how he might have made the sacker feel, he stated, "I was not concerned about that. Those people are not concerned with our feelings."
The Journal asked what his goal was in filing the lawsuit, and he said, "I want Keith to drop the criminal trespass charges, and I will drop the suit."
He also said, "My ultimate goal would be to develop a white caucus for white people. We don't have a collective voice. He added, "I am the way I am because of love. I have no room in my heart for hate. Hate is detrimental. I have no hate toward the black people, I'm indifferent. What am I going to hate them for?"
"I'm vehement about who I am and my beliefs. I'm very disciplined. If Keith doesn't drop the charges I will take it to trial. I'm not going to let a judge decide it. I'll have to accept a jury's decision," ended Thomas.
In Langston's response, he states Thomas has the right and the freedom to go to another grocery store for his food. Langston said in an interview he reprimanded the employee for the use of the curse words, and explained that was not the way the situation should have been handled. Langston's bottom line is "Thomas scared the checkers. They are afraid he will come back with a gun or something. I will not tolerate racism of any sort in this store. He can go somewhere else." Langston has no plans to drop the criminal trespass complaint at this time.
Thomas denies frightening the employees and said he tried to make the situation better by explaining his beliefs. A court date has not yet been set.
<strong>Update</strong>: Thomas has now filed a request to meet with Langston "For the purpose of planning a discovery and schedule".
Langston also made the comment in a secondary interview, "I didn't even know what his religion was when he came in, so I can't be discriminating against him because of his religion."