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'Gas Station Gail': Store manager calls police on parents and children buying drinks: 'It's like a riot out here'

Elise Solé
The manager of a Murphy Express gas station in South Carolina called the police on a group of children and parents who had stopped in to purchase drinks. (Photo: Shakem Akhet via Facebook)

A white woman who called 911 on a group of black adults and children buying beverages in a gas station has been christened “Gas Station Gail.”

On Sunday, South Carolina activist Jonathan Thrower posted a Facebook video of what occurred after his group, which included children ages 1 to 12, attended a peaceful “Stop the Violence” rally in North Charleston.

“Whyt woman calls 911 on us during our Stop the Violence walk in North Charleston,” wrote Thrower on Facebook with the account Shakem Akhet. “She is the Manager at Murphy’s Gas Station on the Corner of Rivers Ave and Otranto rd. She says she doesn’t care about our money, just leave the store. We stopped there to get the children some drinks after we walked a mile during our Rally. I thought 911 was for emergencies????”

After Thrower and his group had marched wearing anti-violence T-shirts that read, “Guns Down Chuck Town,” they headed to the Murphy Express gas station to purchase cold drinks for the thirsty children and adults. 

“A cashier came outside and said, ‘OK, I just want to make sure everyone stays on the sidewalk,’” Thrower, 39, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “A few minutes later, a red truck pulls up and a woman gets out and starts yelling, ‘Leave now! Leave now! I’m calling 911.’”

Thrower says he initially thought the woman, identified to Yahoo Lifestyle by a former Murphy Express employee as store manager Brenda Metz, was being sarcastic. However, concerned for the children, he ushered the group off the premises, while filming the woman as she placed a phone call.

On Tuesday, Thrower uploaded audio of the 911 call, as obtained by Charleston City Paper. “They’re standing outside my store, they’re videoing us and everything,” the woman, who identified herself as “Brenda,” told the 911 dispatcher. “I need a police officer now. I have, like, 30 people standing out here and they will not leave. … They’re standing there, they’re ‘Guns Down Chuck Town’ something.”

Brenda complained that the group was “blocking my whole business,” adding, “I mean, it’s like a riot out here.” When asked if the group had any weapons, she said, “I don’t know,” and reported that the group was “hitting” the gas pumps and turning them off and on. “They’re destroying the outside,” she claimed. “They’ve put trash everywhere.”

“I felt sick when I heard the 911 call,” Thrower tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “A few kids said, ‘Every time we try to do something good, they call the police.’ I kept reassuring them that this was part of conflict resolution and why we walked that day.”

A spokesperson for Murphy USA sent a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle:

“Murphy USA is aware of a situation on Oct. 14 at our North Charleston, South Carolina, Murphy Express location at 8599 Rivers Avenue. Approximately 30–40 people were gathered outside the location at the conclusion of a local community event. Safety issues arose due to people, many of which were young children, being in and around the flow of store traffic, and disruptions to the business were caused by an external emergency fuel stop button being struck numerous times, which shut down all fuel pumps at our site. A Murphy USA employee approached the group and requested they leave the premises. After members of the group refused to leave the premises, a call was made to law enforcement. At this time, Murphy USA is reviewing the situation and the response with our team.”

A representative of the North Charleston Police Department did not respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. According to Thrower, a few members of his group lingered to speak to police, and they told him the police had decided there had been no disturbance.

Thrower is organizing an Oct. 20 protest outside of Murphy Express, demanding that Brenda be terminated and arrested for making a false 911 call.

When called for comment by Yahoo Lifestyle, Brenda hung up the phone.

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