A viral video of two store owners beating an alleged South Carolina shoplifter with a sword and gun sparked a heated protest in North Charleston.
At the center of the incident is 38-year-old Tyrone Mazyck, who the owners of Andrew’s Discount Market say they had to forcibly subdue after he attempted to steal from their convenience store.
As Live 5 News reports, however, community activists are now demanding not only that the store be closed — but that its employees be charged for what a bystander filmed them doing to Mazyck:
The video – which seems to show store clerks armed wit ha gun, sword, and piece of wood hit and threaten Mazyck – has earned thousands of shares and hundreds of thousands of views in the short time it has been uploaded.
The owner of the store has said that Mazyck “frequently causes trouble at the shop,” claiming that he used a knife that police recovered at the scene to cut and threaten to kill his employees.
A group of protesters, including Elder James Johnson of the National Action Network (NAN) — a civil rights organization founded by Rev. Al Sharpton — see things very differently, however.
Saying that there are dozens of “foreigner” and “Arab”-owned business in the area that they would no longer allow to “rape our community” — and that the violence seen in the video is indicative of “Sharia law” — Johnson urged his community to boycott the store:
Johnson, the South Carolina state representative for NAN, added:
“They need to go back to their country where their laws are different from our laws …
We sending a message to all the Arab and the foreigner stores in North Charleston and the city of Charleston that we gonna stop you from taking money from our community and putting none back in it.”
Since then, the Rev. Nelson Rivers – a vice-president at NAN – has pushed back on the comments made by his fellow representative, saying that if there is a perception “that National Action Network is speaking against foreigners….that was not [Johnson’s] intent.”
He also announced that Johnson’s position at NAN will be reviewed later in April.
Nonetheless, the scene inside Andrew’s Discount Market has remained heated, as a reporter for local The Post and Courier newspaper witnessed on Monday:
— Angie Jackson (@AngieJackson23) April 3, 2017
North Charleston police are continuing to investigate the incident with Mazyck that sparked the protests, though they confirmed that Mazyck himself remains the only individual charged.
Meanwhile, a clerk inside Andrew’s says he’s confused about all the racial overtones involved, telling protesters that “I’m brown, too … I’m African, you don’t know that?”