The head of embattled supermarket chain Monoprix whose staff were seen manhandling a visually impaired shopper has admitted blacklisting the newspaper that broke the viral story by taking copies off the shelves.
The regional director of the newspaper ‘La Provence’, Guilhem Ricavy, had alleged that the Monoprix chain had stopped stocking his newspaper after they ran a story about a viral video in which a visually impaired man and his guide dog were forcibly thrown out of the store despite protesting that legally they were entitled to stay.
Ricavy wrote on Twitter: “You condemn (the store’s action), but why have you suspended the sale of our newspaper in your stores in Marseille today?”
A Monoprix spokesperson initially told French media he was unaware of any decision not to stock the newspaper and said it was more likely that they had simply “run out of copies”.
However, Regis Schultz, speaking to French paper Liberation, has implicitly publicly admitted that the supermarket’s employees had unofficially banned the newspaper.
He said: “I am sorry, the management is not behind this initiative. It is the emotional experience of some people in the store that may have felt attacked, it is not a decision of Monoprix.”
He added that the store was closed to protect employees, who have since faced insults and been spat at, according to local media.
Monoprix even came under fire from popular French singer Gilbert Montagne, who is blind and who said he was shocked by the story.
The 66-year-old singer criticised the management of the shop. He said: “It is not permissible! It is in the law, all establishments receiving the public must be accessible.”
He added: “We are often told that stairs are our problem, but that’s not it, it’s finding someone to help us shop! It’s very important.”
The scandal broke when visually-impaired Arthur Aumoite visited the store with his three-year-old German shepherd Loya, his guide dog for almost a year.
The manager promptly approached Aumoite and told him it was not possible to enter the shop with the dog because of “hygiene reasons”.
The ensuing row even saw the visually-impaired man allegedly being assaulted, pushed and restrained by the manager and an employee.
In the video footage, the 25-year-old, who has a genetic eye disease, argues that French law allows him to go everywhere with his trained canine and provided an official document given to him by the guide dog training facility.
After three days, the footage had notched up some 200,000 views on YouTube. At the time of writing, the count was at over 2.3 million views.
The young man relies entirely on his canine companion in order to carry out his day-to-day activities and said he has even been allowed in hospitals with Loya.
Monoprix later issued an official statement and apologised to the man on social media.
The company wrote on Twitter: “Monoprix strongly condemns the incident that took place in Marseille and apologises.”
While the 25-year-old originally said that he only wanted the story to go viral, he has since reportedly told local media that he is planning to take Monoprix to court.