A deaf woman who works at a Virginia Publix grocery store said she was punched in the head by a customer who thought she was being ignored.
Liberty Gratz, who is fully deaf and suffers from vision loss, has been an employee at the Midlothian Publix since the store opened. While speaking through a translator, Liberty narrated how the violent incident took place on Sunday when she knelt down restocking items on a shelf.
“All of a sudden, I felt some woman hit me in my back,” Liberty signed as her mom, Jeanette Gratz, interpreted.
As Liberty was working to straighten out the bottom shelf, she didn’t notice the woman who tried to get her attention.
“She doesn’t have that peripheral vision, so she’s really focused on her work,” Jeanette said. “She doesn’t always notice the people beside her.”
In addition to using American Sign Language (ASL), she communicates with customers by writing on a pad of paper.
After getting hit in the head by the unidentified woman, Liberty gathered her composure and pointed the woman in the direction of the item she needed.
“She could still feel it when I picked her up from work. “How would you feel if you were working and someone just came up behind you and decided to punch you?”
Liberty says Publix was overly supportive. Her department and store managers scoured the security footage, but no one could make out who it was.
Dwaine Stevens, the Publix Super Markets Media and Community Relations Manager, says, “We are in full cooperation with local law enforcement concerning this incident. The care and concern for our associates is paramount.”
Although Liberty still does not know who did it, she and her mother would welcome an opportunity to sit down with the woman and have a conversation with her about being kind to people with and without disabilities.
“I know hurt people usually are the ones that hurt people. And so whoever it is, they’ve been prayed for. I will continue to pray for them, and I hope that things get better in their life so they can be better to other people.”