THUNDER BAY – Crimebeat – Guest Editorial – Larry Larivee was working at a local Mac’s store that was the target of a robbery attempt on December 22, 2011. Thunder Bay has struggled with a continuing spree of apparently unconnected robberies of Mac’s locations. Instead of staying quiet, Larry has gone public to share his concerns about the safety of workers.
Here is his commentary:
I’d like to publicly express my regret in encouraging vigilante justice during my first interview. Although I’ve already expressed this numerous times to the media and to Donna Lemire, I feel I need to be more candid about it. When I first spoke out, my mind ran wild off its leash and it went on cruise control. Considering the week I was having, who would blame me? After finally calming down my vision became clearer. Bringing a bat, can of mace or a gun will not solve anything, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find other ‘legal means’ within your disposal.
I understand that the law isn’t on our side, when it comes to defending ourselves, but there are legal ways that clerks should be aware of when protecting themselves because Mac’s current policy doesn’t guarantee their employee’s safety.
“Get them in and out and move on,” said Sportun in a statement to The Sault Star newspaper one year ago (1). “Let the police handle it after that is pretty much how we preach to our folks.”
They expect us to not resist, hide under the desk and hope for the best! No real promise of a positive outcome.
Meanwhile Mac’s remains adamant in believing that employee’s safety is ‘paramount.’ Though its imperative that we all see that this ‘one size fits all’ solution is amateur at best.
They say they care about us but I challenge them to make their actions look like their words. Every employee should reserve the right to defend themselves or tell someone with a stick to ‘Get Lost!” Would you rather defend yourself or take your chances being a prop? Mac’s ‘experts’ believe your less likely to get hurt… but that doesn’t sound reassuring either. Its your life and you are free to defend it! Employees shouldn’t have to be put in that position to fight for their lives at a minimum wage salary.
Not long ago, Mac’s held a safety meeting in town with no valuable solution in site. “They basically said, we’re on our own,” one employee I spoke to about it said.
In fact, most clerks agree the ‘no resist’ policy is doing more harm than good. Of course since my public statement, they issued a ’package’ worth of forms for their employees to sign off on, right after my statement of ‘unity.’ One restriction among them is that they can not speak out to the media whatsoever. I’m shocked that Mac’s or Sportun doesn’t feel as lucky as I do that I’m alive right now. I don’t wish what happened to me onto anyone… even onto those small groups of people who hate me but you guy’s know you don’t make it easy. For the record… I’m not slandering Mac’s, I’m holding them accountable!
In a phone conversation with Sportun, Sean asked me, “Do you think the outcome of that night would have been any different, if you took matters into your own hands?”
Once again, being second guessed by someone who wasn’t there. By someone who had all the time in the world to watch what happened to me in the comfort of his office. Who didn’t bother listening to my suggestions to help prevent this from happening again. I have a few questions myself! Is an employee’s life worth the capital you’ve earned thats been leading up to the next employee’s death?
Is it worth gambling on the outcome of people’s lives? Can you guarantee the safety & well being of your employees the next time someone doesn’t resist? Sooner or later someone not resisting is going to get killed! For what & who!? Mac’s is cashing in on their hopes of dehumanizing their workers into being obedient & apathetic workers. Reassuring them that they have everything under control when 26 robberies in one year is proof otherwise. Though continuing the conversation, Sportun said, “Thunder Bay has a social issue that no one there wishes to address.” They’re using it as an excuse to not come in and protect their employees who are also members of the community. As if to say, “Its not our problem.”
During that heated conversation, Sportun advised me that I should “go ramble onto the media” because thats where my opinion will be heard.
As if to say that mine, the media, and anyone else who follows it’s opinions don’t matter either. Looking back now, I had no choice. People ask me, “What were you thinking when he had the knife to your throat?” My mind went blank. I wasn’t present because I was in a state of shock. Looking back, I managed to stay calm because they kept making mistakes as they kept walking into them.
I was lucky that these were only kids with a future to think about, instead of a fiend who had nothing left to lose. Its absolutely crazy to believe you will get the same positive outcome the next time this happens and when it doesn’t happen the way their hoping it does, Mac’s should be prosecuted for being liable and neglectful for ignoring all the warning signs. As of right now, I’m currently talking with the Ministry to enforce tighter regulations and seeking legal council.
1- The Sault Star – www.saultstar.com: Mac’s Convenience on Wellington Street West was robbed three times between December and March. The thefts usually happen at night.
The opinions expressed are those of the author. As a continuing service NetNewsledger opens dialogue and offers background on issues of local concern.