ATLANTA, Georgia (WGCL) — The owner of a gas station that was at the center of racial controversy is now selling his business.
Following 66 days of non-stop demonstrations outside the Exxon gas station off Flat Shoals Rd, organizer Joe Jones is pleased that the owner is planning to sell.
“We sent a clear message that we will no longer tolerate disrespect,” Jones said.
Protests started in mid-October after a clerk at the store was caught on camera saying, “I don’t give a [expletive] about the Black neighborhood.”
The store’s owner, Rahim Sivji, apologized and parted ways with the clerk. However, Jones said they continued to protest due to claims of racism and abusive behavior customers reportedly experienced over the years.
“We have to understand our power, the power of dollar, the power of Black economics and we have to be intentional with our spending,” Jones said. “It is a privilege to get Black dollars.”
This week, Sivji and Jones signed a memorandum of understanding in which Sivji agreed to sell the store, with an option for Jones to buy it. As a result, Jones agreed to end demonstrations outside the store while it is on the market.
“They tried to put me out of business,” Sivji said in a phone interview with CBS46.
Sivji called Jones’ tactics “harassment,” adding that he lost between 70-80% of revenue during the protests.
“It got to the point where I’m thinking if I have to save my life or my store, I say the hell with my store, I want to save my life,” he said. “That’s what’s important to me.”
Jones, who is crowdfunding to purchase (Donation Page) the store, said demonstrators wanted to show how relentless they could be in their fight for fair treatment.
“This was an effective boycott that led to tangible results,” Jones said. “This is the perfect opportunity to take this situation and try to promote a situation of Black ownership.”
Munir Meghjani, a mediator between the two parties, told CBS46, no matter who becomes the new owner, he will recommend that person sit down with Black community leaders in the area in hopes of preventing a similar situation.
“I think it was a clash of two cultures that have misunderstood each other for a long time,” Meghjani said. “I think a lot of good can come out of this.”
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