Several local civil rights organizations May 1 plan to begin organized protests at the North Charleston neighborhood convenience store where a man accused March 29 of shoplifting was beaten by store operators.
The March 29 assault during which the attackers repeatedly struck the accused man with a sword and held him at gunpoint was recorded by cell phone video and later posted on Facebook. The video shows two men shoving Tyron Mazyck around the store and repeatedly striking him, at one point knocking him to the floor. Mazyck was arrested and charged with shoplifting. The operators of the store are of Middle Eastern origin and have drawn sharp criticism from those who say Black communities are being exploited by foreign merchants. The incident has resulted in the scrutiny of many businesses owned by foreign nationals which operate in predominantly Black neighborhoods.
No charges have been filed against the operators who assaulted Mazyck. North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor said Mazyck has the right to file a warrant for their arrest.
Pastor Thomas Dixon, founder of The Coalition (People United To Take Back Our Community), said organized protests at the store on Dorchester Road in the Dorchester Terrace community will begin following the sporadic protests that occurred initially. National Action Network S.C. State Coordinator Elder James Johnson said NAN will spearhead the effort. Volunteers are asked to participate in sustaining the protest. Volunteers should call Johnson at 843-532-0787 or email NAN at [email protected] for information, he said.
Dixon said the incident at Andrew’s Discount Market happened for a reason. Predatory stores operated by foreign nationals proliferate in Black communities and take advantage of food deserts where access to affordable healthy foods is unavailable. They sell alcohol, drug paraphernalia and engage in illegal business activities in communities victimized by socio-economic dynamics that make them vulnerable, he said. The behavior demonstrated in the March 29 video is the norm rather than the exception, Dixon said. The incident was an alert signaling that action challenging what’s become widely accepted must be taken.
The store, which is located across the street from the Burns Elementary School campus on Dorchester Road in a building once occupied by Alex’s Restaurant, will be ground zero in an effort to influence similar enterprises to do the right thing, Dixon said. He and Johnson said the goal is to close the store.
“It’s a matter of standing up for our community,” Dixon said. “That community has to endure inflated prices, the disrespect of our women, unhealthy food choices and being exploited through the sale of illegal or immoral items like loose cigarettes, crack pipes and trading food stamps for beer and wine. Because there’s a market for the sale of an item doesn’t mean you have to sell it,” Dixon said of activities that border on illegality. “We’re also demanding that those other businesses reinvest in our communities by hiring employees from within those communities.
“Those businesses are sucking the economic life from our communities. They contribute to the rate of incarceration of Black men and boys and gentrification. We’re going to push for law enforcement to monitor the situation as we push to enforce their moral obligation with the help of our partners in the Muslim community. This is a systemic problem. We don’t want to deny anybody their right to conduct business. But we will send the message that they must conduct business in our communities fairly and equitably,” Dixon said.