Multiple police departments responded to protesters facing off outside an ice cream shop in Gastonia, North Carolina, on Wednesday night, July 22, reports said.
Gastonia Police, Gaston County Police, the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office, NC Highway Patrol, Belmont Police, Mt Holly Police, Bessemer City Police, and Lowell Police responded to the incident, according to local reports.
The protests were in response to an incident on Monday wherein a customer identified as Lydia Robinson said she was unfairly treated by a staff member at Tony’s Ice Cream on East Franklin Boulevard because she was wearing a Black Lives Matter pin.
Robinson was charged with trespassing on Monday after Gastonia Police said she caused a public disturbance in the restaurant’s parking lot.
About a dozen anti-racism protesters gathered at the scene on Tuesday night, leading to another arrest, reports said.
Protesters gathered again on Wednesday near Tony’s Ice Cream, spreading to the Gaston County Courthouse before police issued dispersal orders, according to local media.
A group of counter-protesters were seen holding Confederate flags on Wednesday, both in video shared by the Queen City Nerve and a report by WSOC. According to reports, a group identifying itself as the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense arrived carrying assault-style rifles.
Robinson told WBTV that on July 20 she was wearing a Black Lives Matter button when she went into Tony’s Ice Cream and reportedly got “hostile looks” from staff members. She says that made her feel unwelcome.
“Racism does not have to be a word. Racism does not have to be a name that you call me. Racism can be how you fail to look at me in my eyes,” Robinson said.
Managers at Tony’s said the entire situation is a misunderstanding and its workers don’t discriminate, WSOC reported. Credit: Queen City Nerve via Storyful