[image-2] [image-1] A gas station employee called the cops on an anti-violence march in North Charleston that consisted mostly of children, according to a 911 call and video of the incident.
A Facebook video posted on Sunday shows a man leaning on the back of a truck outside of the Murphy Express convenience store at 8599 Rivers Ave. He hands a phone to a woman, who asks the cameraman to turn his camera off as throngs of young children and parents wearing T-shirts reading “Guns Down Chuck Town” stand near the door of the store. The woman enters the store and hides behind an ATM while still on the phone.
The video was posted by Charleston-area community activist Jonathan Thrower, who also goes by the name Shakem Akhet.
Thrower, who helped lead the march on Sun. Oct. 14, tells City Paper that demonstrators stopped by a different gas station to hand out information about conflict resolution earlier in the day.
“We went and got a lot of elementary and middle school students ’cause this was a youth march,” he said. “When we got to the end of [Otranto] Road, some of the children said, ‘We’re thirsty’ and ‘Can we stop to get something to drink?'”
An employee of the store told the demonstrators to remain on the sidewalk, Thrower said. The crowd complied, and everything went smoothly until a different woman pulled up next to them and threatened to call 911.
“I thought she was playing at first,” he added. “I didn’t really think that was gonna happen.”
“They’re standing outside my store, they’re videoing us and everything, I need a police officer here now,” said the woman, who identified herself as Brenda to a Charleston County 911 dispatcher. “I mean, it’s like a riot out here.”
After being asked repeatedly by a dispatcher, the woman clarified that she was not in danger, though she claimed the demonstrators were “absolutely destroying the outside” area of the store.
The woman did not identify herself as an employee of the store at the time of the encounter, but commenters on Thrower’s post speculated that she may be a manager.
North Charleston Police responded to the call, but the crowd had dispersed and no report was taken, according to department spokesperson Spencer Pryor.
“The North Charleston Police Department — I applaud them, because the guy was like, ‘You know, they’re just coming in to purchase something, I’m sure they‘re not causing any trouble,” Thrower says.
Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties saw 73 homicides last year, according to an analysis by the Post & Courier published in January. Guns were involved in 60 of the 73 cases.
North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess has made “Stop the Violence” marches a recurring part of his schedule, with the latest event taking place on Oct. 1 in honor of a 2006 domestic violence incident that took the life of a woman and her four children.
[content-1]On Tuesday morning, an employee at the gas station did not confirm whether the woman worked at the store, referring questions about the incident to the chain’s corporate office.
Murphy USA, the store’s parent company, is based in El Dorado, Ark.
In a statement sent to CP on Thursday afternoon, Murphy spokesperson Joshua Cook said:
Approximately 30–40 people were gathered outside the location at the conclusion of a local community event. 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. A Murphy USA employee approached the group and requested they leave the premises. After members of the group refused to leave the premises, a call was made to law enforcement. At this time, Murphy USA is reviewing the situation and the response with our team.