A private security guard working at Whole Foods in Oakland beat a black man unconscious on Thursday evening, according to witness accounts.
One witness, Zoe Marks, told the Oakland Tribune that she “watched as the guard slammed the man against a concrete pillar, put him in a chokehold until he passed out, and threw him out of the store.” According to Marks, the man was in a verbal argument with a cashier but was not violent before being assaulted by the security officer. “He wasn’t shouting at anyone. He wasn’t violent or disruptive,” Marks said.
Marks also posted an account of the incident — along with graphic photos of the victim — on Facebook.
Whole Foods said they have fired the guard involved and the security firm that employed him.
@z_marks We take this very serious. We are investigating this immediately.
— Whole Foods Market (@WholeFoods) September 4, 2015
The Oakland police are investigating.
In the United States, private security guards outnumber actual police officers 5 to 1. Security expert Bruce Schneier notes that they “often receive minimal training, if any. They don’t graduate from police academies.” As a result “[a]buses of power, brutality, and illegal behavior are much more common among private security guards.”