Black Charleston, S.C., residents are calling for the firing of a white gas station manager who recently called the cops on a group of anti-violence protesters for the awful crime of hanging out outside a gas station while a few of their members went inside to make purchases.
In an even more bizarre—though, unfortunately, not exactly surprising—twist, most of the protesters were children.
According to WCBD TV, Charleston community activist Jonathan Thrower, who goes by Shakem Akhet on Facebook, led dozens of black adults and children in an anti-violence walk on Sunday. The group had just concluded the mile-long protest, “Guns down Chucktown: End to Gun Violence,” when they stopped at the Murphy USA Express gas station to get some refreshments for the kids—who comprised the bulk of the group.
While the group paused outside, a white couple pulled up in a red pickup truck. The couple called 911 on the group, with the woman, identified as Brenda Metz, hopping on the phone to tell dispatchers that the walk participants were “destroying” the outside of the station.
Thrower recorded the woman—who’s being referred to as “Gas Station Gail,” according to the Huffington Post—talking on the phone and walking in and out of the store. Participants in the march can be seen holding their signs and chatting with each other, trying to figure out what was happening.
While what she says is unclear in his video, the Charleston City Paper obtained audio of Metz’s call to the North Charleston dispatcher.
“They’re standing outside my store, they’re videoing us and everything, I need a police officer here now,” said Metz, who was later identified as a store manager for Murphy Express. She told the dispatcher the group was knocking gas pumps down and “absolutely destroying the outside” of the gas station.
Metz added, “I mean, it’s like a riot out here.” Meanwhile, the protesters were literally standing outside, holding “Stop the violence” posters.
At one point, a dispatcher asks Metz if she feels like she’s in danger.
“No, no we just want a police officer to get here,” she said.
Thrower told WCBD TV the whole incident “happened so fast.”
“We were literally just standing there and boom,” Thrower said. “The only thing I could think in the back of my mind is, this lady is crazy.”
Cops did end up responding to the call, but the group had already dispersed by the time they arrived. Thrower said he applauded the police department’s response to the bogus call.
The [officer] was like, ‘You know, they’re just coming in to purchase something, I’m sure they‘re not causing any trouble,” he told WCBD.
Still, Thrower and other North Charleston community members are calling for a boycott of Murphy Express, which in a statement, seemed to back up Metz.
“Safety issues arose due to people, many of which were young children, being in and around the flow of store traffic, and disruptions to the business were caused by an external emergency fuel stop button being struck numerous times, which shut down all fuel pumps at our site,” Murphy USA said in a statement, according to the Huffington Post.
Thrower also wants Metz fired.
“A lot of the children were distraught,” he told WCBD TV. “They were saying why is it when we do something good, something still ends up going wrong?”