About 50 protesters demanded justice outside a Pittsburgh gas station after video showed three men punching, pushing and dragging two Black women Friday night at the gas station.
“It was just me and my sister against all those grown men,” the 27-year-old victim told CBS affiliate KDKA.
A relative identified the women in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as sisters Jamila and Ashia Regan, of the North Side.
The younger sister is 25 years old, KDKA reported.
The men in the incident were identified as owners at the Exxon station in the 2500 block of Brighton Road as well as another station about 10 miles north in Ross, according to local media outlets.
Another man in the incident was also identified as a gas station employee, and the store was closed Saturday as protesters gathered, media outlets reported.
“There’s no way that you should be able to put your hands on females like this and still be able to run a business,” the older sister in the incident told KDKA, “especially in our community where I grew up.”
Kelli Shakur, one of the protesters handing out flyers to people stopping at the gas station Saturday, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette she is protesting because she wants to “stand up for the black ladies viciously beat down.”
“Do not come here. They beat black women,” Shakur told passing drivers. “Don’t get gas. Don’t get nothing here. They beat black women.”
“Black people have to take a stand,” Shakur added.
Police haven’t released the names of the suspects, but they told several news outlets assault charges have been filed against the gas station owner and an employee who were allegedly involved in the assault.
Prosecutors will decide whether the charges should be more serious.
Mike Manko, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office of Allegheny County, told Atlanta Black Star in an emailed statement Monday:
“We are still in discussion with the city about which charges are appropriate and which individuals should be charged. I don’t have a timeline on when those discussions will be complete.”
Police responded to the incident about 6:45 p.m. when a customer’s request for a refund for gas that spilled on the ground escalated into a fight. Owners refused the request, the Post-Gazette reported.
Video later showed the accused men holding the women on the ground and punching them repeatedly. An employee accused in the incident was also seen grabbing one of the women by her hair and dragging her across the ground, the Post-Gazette reported.
“It’s cool. I got the whole thing on camera. Y’all going down,” a person recording can be heard screaming on video.
The gas station was closed Saturday as protesters gathered in the early morning, the Post-Gazette reported.
“No justice. No peace,” a woman on a bullhorn shouted. “If we don’t get it, shut it down.”
Sharon McIntosh, coordinator for the Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Violence, told the Post-Gazette “this cannot be the order of the day.” She called the encounter an “atrocity.”
“Where is it OK to violently attack anyone, females in particular?” she asked.
Valerie Allman, another protester, told the Post-Gazette she learned about the fight on Facebook soon after it happened.
“When you jump somebody from behind, it isn’t self defense,” she said.
Allman told the newspaper she had a similar problem with gasoline overflowing at the pump.
“The pump was broken and the gas spilled on the ground, and they charged me for it,” she said. “That’s why I don’t come here anymore.”
ExxonMobil released a media statement saying the company “does not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment by any company representative.”
“ExxonMobil’s global policies promote diversity and inclusion and prohibit any form of discrimination or harassment in any company workplace, anywhere around the world,” the company said in the statement.
It also explained that Exxon Mobile doesn’t own or operate retail fuel stations itself in the United States but that the stations are supplied by “authorized independent branded wholesalers.”
“But we are aware of the situation and take these matters very seriously,” the company said.