After police officers and a community organizer set up an annual school supply drive, a Target store manager came out and told them to leave because he “doesn’t support the police.” Not long after kicking out the officers, the manager came to regret his decision.
The manager of a Target store in Connecticut created a backlash for his business after a confrontation with Timothy Conaway and local police officers. According to WFSB, the manager of a store in New Britain has backtracked from his initial decision to bar police officers from setting up a school supply drive near the retailer’s entrance.
According to WTIC-TV, Conaway has routinely partnered with the local police New Britain Police Department in order to give back to the community in the form of a school fundraiser for the last 7 years. Along with two officers, Conaway showed up at the Target one morning and began setting up their drive just as they had done the year prior. It was then that the manager came outside in a huff.
“I told him I was here last year and he didn’t agree or believe me and he told us to leave, officers were looking like ‘you really you want us to leave’ and he said yes,” Conaway said.
Timothy Conaway was shocked when the manager confronted him about standing outside with the two officers, insisting that they pack up their charitable donations and leave. Apparently, the manager took issue with the police being on the property. One charity worker explained that the officers disappointedly appeased his demand.
“I didn’t specifically hear anything like that. I just know that the manager was resisting trying to have us set up,” volunteer Jovanka Segura said.
As soon as the manager’s reaction was publicized, citizens overwhelmingly expressed their outrage. Even the city’s mayor and the fire chief voiced disapproval with how the police officers were treated.
In response, Mayor Erin Stewart tweeted, “So our New Britain PD were trying to do their annual back to school supply drive and the Target manager told them to leave because he doesn’t support the police. Anyone want to make a donation?”
New Britain’s Fire Chief Raul Ortiz even reacted to the incident on Twitter, saying, “I’ll donate. That is unbelievable. Isn’t community policing and involvement what we want more of? Our NBPD has been exceptional in that aspect.”
While the incident prompted many to donate toward the charity drive, it also sparked a chain reaction, leading many to call out the manager and the store. Seeing the quickly rising unpopularity of the manager’s decision, Target headquarters released an official statement via Twitter.
“We have a long history of supporting the New Britain community and we’re sorry for the misunderstanding. We’ve talked with the police and they’re returning this weekend for their back to school drive. in addition, Target’s donating school supplies to support their effort.”
The regional Target manager also announced that a $500 donation to Conaway’s cause would be made. Target also confirmed that it would allow the police department to return to the store for the collection drive and place a donation bin inside the building.
New Britain spokesman Edward Ford said “the past 24 hours we’ve seen a tremendous amount of support from the community for the police department’s back to school drive.”
Since the confrontation, Timothy Conaway’s school supply drive has seen donations and support for his charity skyrocket. Incredibly, the manager’s decision not only proved positive for the collection drive but it also stirred up a backlash from the community toward the business.
Thankfully, the citizens came together to support the police department’s efforts to reach out to and restore relations with its community. In this era of anti-law enforcement sentiments, their response was exactly what was needed.