A gas station convenience store chain vowed to make changes in how it treats Black customers after a video ignited demonstrations in St. Louis—but some Black leaders are skeptical.
Managers of a Gas Mart announced a one-week closure of their store on Monday (July 30) to allow “time for the community to heal” after the video, which shows two employees kicking a Black woman, went viral, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.
The company presented a list of changes, including sensitivity training for workers. However, the Rev. Darryl Gray, a protest leader, said the proposed measures don’t go far enough.
A video posted on Facebook shows the July 24 confrontation between 37-year-old Kelli Adams and two store clerks. The men told Adams, whom some from the neighborhood described as homeless, to stop standing in front of the store. They exchange heated words, and one of the men kicked Adams to the ground.
Later that day, protesters gathered at the store. Demonstrations, including cars blocking the gas pumps, continued for days. Police arrested Ahmed Qandeel and Jehad Motan and charged them with fourth-degree assault.
“I want everyone to know that this is not the end but the beginning of the healing process,” Mike Jabber, a member of Gas Mart management, said. He pledged accountability for employees and respect for the community going forward.
Company representatives met privately with local elected officials and community leaders to discuss meaningful next steps. In addition to sensitivity training, Gas Mart said it would hire more workers from the community.
It was a positive meeting, but the promised steps are “unacceptable,” Gray said.
“It says it’s just the beginning, but there are some other things that need to be in the beginning,” he added, referring to Gas Mart’s press release. “This is not enough. This is not a start.”