Caught on Camera | North Charleston gas station clerk calls police on youth protesters
Video of a Lowcountry gas station employee calling the police on a group of activists is going viral.
This incident happened at Murphy Express off Rivers Avenue on Sunday.
Organizer Jonathan Thrower says a group of protesters were marching down Otranto Avenue, when they decided to buy snacks at Murphy Express before heading to a cookout.
Thrower says there were 30 to 35 people in their group, including many elementary and middle school children.
The group was marching to protest violence in their community. Some of the marchers stood outside while others went inside the store to buy snacks.
Soon after they arrived, Thrower says a store employee pulled up and asked them to leave.
“At first in all honesty I was confused. I thought they were being sarcastic because, you know, of white people calling 911 on black people," says Thrower.
But Thrower soon realized the employee was serious so he started recording her, “I saw it was for real when she grabbed the phone and she said 'ya'll need to leave. Leave. Leave."
ABC News 4 obtained the 911 call from the employee. At one point she told the 911 operator, “they are hitting the pump stop, absolutely destroying the outside side." She also said. “I mean it’s like a riot out here”.
In Thrower’s video, the young protesters are seen standing outside. Some held anti-violence signs, and one person had a drum.
The store employee saw the anti-violence signs, and even described to the 911 operator what was written on the signs, “guns down Chucktown or something," said the employee.
When we called the store employee, she hung up.
But later today, Murphy USA released this statement:
"The investigation into the situation that occurred at our Murphy Express location is ongoing. The safety of our customers and employees is our primary concern. We have spoken with members of our staff and local authorities and reviewed security camera footage from the location. We can confirm that the group of 30-40 individuals – many of them children who were gathered at the location following the march – were calm and peaceful.
The security camera footage shows clear safety concerns related to children moving around and in front of vehicles entering and exiting the gas station during a busy time of day. Our records also confirm that an external, emergency fuel shut-off button was pressed on at least three occasions, disabling all fuel pumps and requiring a manual reset to restart gasoline transactions.
We regret that this incident has taken focus away from the purpose of the local anti-violence march, a cause we fully support. Any effort to reduce violence in our communities is critically important to Murphy USA."
Jonathan Thrower says in response, "someone said the emergency gas button was pushed. Even if that was the case, just hypothetically speaking, it could have been someone else who did it. I don’t know who did"
Thrower says he plans to protest at the gas station later this month.
Murphy USA says the future of the employee is "still part of the company’s ongoing review."