Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5
Black community members express anger after racially offensive comments from an Asian shop owner.
Some African-American leaders are calling for boycott of an Asian-owned business in Dallas.
Demonstrators in front of a Dallas convenience store Wednesday accused the owner of disrespecting African-American customers.
The protesters tried to keep customers from visiting the Diamond Shamrock store in the 1900 block of Martin Luther King Boulevard near U.S. 175 and said they would be back in the future to promote a boycott.
“And hopefully this will send a message to all of the firms south of downtown, that you must respect our people,” said civil rights leader Peter Johnson.
The chief complaint against the business arises from a Dec. 9, 2011, visit by Minister Jeffery Muhammad with a nearby Nation of Islam mosque.
Muhammad said he wanted to buy only $5 worth of gas with his debit card because he felt the price at the store was too high. But the store policy required a $10 minimum debit or credit card purchases.
Muhammad said the owner made racial remarks when the complained about the policy.
“He said ‘you’re a slave and you all should go back to Africa,’” Muhammad said.
The owner, who declined to be interviewed at length, said Muhammad called him a “Chinaman” first and told him to go back to China.
Muhammad insists the owner’s slurs came first, and the minister returned to the store Wednesday with at least two dozen supporters for the noontime protest.
“We do not need a green card. We do not need a citizenship test. We do not need a visa. We were born here. We’re American and we will stay here,” said Dallas NAACP President Juanita Wallace.
The demonstrators said they will return in the future and that other businesses that disrespect African-American customers may face similar protests.
“We will no longer be disrespected as a people when we spend our money,” said Rev. Ronald Wright.
But many African-American customers continued to visit the business, ignoring the protest.
“I come up here every day. I play my lotto. I have no problems,” customer Shaun Matlock said.
Doug Davis said he served in the military with the Asian store owner as he filled his vehicle with gas right in front of the demonstrators.
“We served 12 years in the military. I didn’t have no problem then, ain’t got no problem with him now,” Davis said.