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The Bookshelf shaken after man tries to remove anti-racism books

The man tried to steal 20 anti-racism and discrimination books, calling store co-founder a racist for having them on the shelf

A downtown business is shaken after what appeared to be a  targeted incident Friday that saw a man try to steal a shelf of books on anti-racism, calling the store owner a 'racist b***h.'

The incident happened at The Bookshelf Friday afternoon.

The Bookshelf co-founder Barb Minett said she was working at the front desk when a man walked in, put his bag down and headed into the store.

She heard books being dropped to the ground and went to see what was happening.

“So I came around, and there he was, with all the books on the floor, and I said, ‘what are you doing?’ And he said, ‘I'm taking these books because they are racist, and you can't sell any anti-racist books any longer,’” said Minett.

Here is a white man telling us we can’t sell anti-racist books, she said.

The section of books called race relations and discrimination has been there for years without any incidents like this occurring.

These are really important books, she said. Minett called out to an employee to call the police and when she looked back he had gathered all of the books.

As he was headed to the door Minett pulled him by one of his backpack straps to try and stop him. A staff member of Miijidaa, the restaurant with an open doorway to the book store, grabbed the other strap. Two other staff members came to help when they were outside the front door of Miijidaa.

The man was screaming throughout the time the staff members were trying to stop him. He repeatedly called Minett a racist, she said.

The man walked off and Minett was able to recover 20 books.

“I know we're told not to intervene, but I just couldn't let someone … walk out of the store. Dismantle a section, threaten us like that, take 20 of our books, just because he thought that we were racist,” said Minett.

The man knew where he was going because he went right to the section where the books were taken from,.

“It was really disturbing. And we have to be aware of it, I guess,” she said. “I don't know what the answers are, obviously, because it’s very complicated, but we can’t be frightened either.”

She couldn’t stop herself from doing something, she had to stop him, Minett said.

The only other incident Minett could recall happened a few years ago when people had said they would boycott The Bookshelf because they carried books by author Jordan Peterson.

“Censorship is a very, very slippery slope. And it's a dangerous thing to get into,” said Minett. 

The police came after Friday's incident, said Minett, adding she hopes he doesn’t come back to the store.


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Santana Bellantoni

About the Author: Santana Bellantoni

Santana Bellantoni was born and raised in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. As a general assignment reporter for Guelph Today she is looking to discover the communities, citizens and quirks that make Guelph a vibrant city.
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