An Asian content creator has gone viral for sharing a video of himself being allegedly racially profiled and mistaken for a thief at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto.
TikToker Lewis Chia (@lewis.chia) posted the video on TikTok and Instagram on Sunday. In the two-minute clip, three employees can be heard accusing Chia of being the alleged thief who has purportedly been stealing from their store on a frequent basis.
The incident occurred at the Shoppers Drug Mart branch on Yonge Street and Charles Street on Oct. 10, according to Chia’s recent posts. In his TikTok post, which has already garnered more than 5.8 million views and over 931,000 likes, the content creator can be heard saying that he goes to the store “all the time” since he lives across the street.
The employees show a picture of the alleged thief, who Chia describes in his video’s onscreen text as “an Asian-fishing white man.”
Chia’s friend, who accompanied him to the store, spoke out in his defense. “I’m so sorry, are you being racist? That doesn’t look like him at all,” she tells the employees. “This is a completely different person. You’re being extremely racist right now. This is not OK.”
The employees explain that the person in the picture “has been causing a lot of trouble” and stealing items worth “thousands and thousands of dollars” from the store daily.
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.
Chia and his friend tell the employees in a composed manner that their comments are unacceptable.
“It’s not OK to accuse my friend of this when he comes in here all the time. And I’m so sorry but that looks nothing like him,” Chia’s friend says.
“I think you should’ve been a little more certain before telling me that I’m banned from this store because that’s very clearly not me. Just because we both wear makeup doesn’t mean it’s the same person,” Chia adds.
A store manager eventually appears and tells them that there “might have just been a big misunderstanding.”
“[Because] there is someone that’s banned,” the manager explains before another employee interrupts her and says, “And you said you came yesterday as well, and he came too.”
“Three of you all said please leave the store when it wasn’t him,” Chia’s friend eventually points out. “That’s not acceptable. Can he even come into the store without being accused at this point? If all three of you thought it was him… this is not OK!”
After the manager tells Chia that they are “super, super sorry” for what happened, the content creator says, “That’s fine, but I think you guys should at least approach people a bit differently [because] that was so out of the blue to just say that I’m banned from the store, when if you took a look at the picture, you would know that’s not me.”
Even though the manager continues to apologize for the incident, another employee interjects and says, “The thing is, that person keeps changing himself, you know… We cannot be sure what exactly he looks like.”
“But then maybe you have to be a bit more sure before you come and tell me that, right? … I hope you guys find him,” Chia says. “But I’m going to look like this for a while so let’s not have this happen again, OK?”
Chia shared in his recent social media posts that he is still waiting for a reply from Shoppers Drug Mart’s headquarters.
Some TikTok users criticized the store’s employees for how they handled the situation, with one user writing, “They apologized but still very feels like their being defensive instead of just admitting their mistake period.’”
“I’m glad the manager was on your side, I never heard a single apology from the guy worker smh,” another commented.
Meanwhile, other TikTok users praised Chia’s friend for how she spoke up for him. “I’m so sorry to experience this, but I’m so happy you had a guardian angel by your side,” one user wrote, while another said, “I love how your friend instantly stood up for you, she’s definitely a real one!”
“Honestly don’t know what i would’ve done without her,” Chia wrote in one of his replies.