NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - Representatives of area civil rights groups are speaking out about what they call predatory convenience stores as they work to have a North Charleston shop closed down.
At a 10 a.m. news conference, Elder James Johnson with the National Action Network said Andrew's Discount Market was among several businesses disrespecting and taking advantage of the community.
"This store should close because of the disrespectful video and the disrespect of black females that came forward," he said.
Johnson did not give specific details regarding incidents involving the women in the community, however, did mention sexual comments were involved.
Johnson's status with the National Action Network is under review after he made some comments about the store employees after a viral video surfaced. Reverend Nelson Rivers, the Vice President of Religious Affairs and External Relations with NAN, said a statement would be released Monday.
In early April, a video of a suspected shoplifter being detained with guns, a sword, and a stick by associates at the Dorchester Road store was shared over 15,000 times. An attorney for the man, Tyrone Mazyck, said they're working with the store owners and described their talks as "fruitful."
"Those conversations have been very productive and lead me to believe that we'll be able to do something that will benefit this community at large, that will also make the family whole," said attorney Marvin Pendarvis.
Other representatives said some stores in North Charleston are taking advantage of people in the community by selling cigarettes to underage buyers, trades for sexual favors, and making drug paraphernalia available.
"It's typical for them to carry drug paraphernalia," said Pastor Thomas Dixon with The Coalition. "It's typical for them to sell what's called a setup. That means you get a crack pipe, the trail bores, some screens to go in the crack pipe and a cigarette lighter for five dollars. The only thing you've gotta buy is the dope."
Andrew's owner, Alex Shedid, said they do have items for sale, like glass pipes, which are legal, however, some people could intentionally use them for drugs. He added they do not sell drugs or any setups.
According to a flier, the South Carolina National Action Network, The Coalition, Take It To The Streets and members of the community plan to protest in shifts every day outside of Andrew's Discount Market until it closes for good.
"We're going to send a strong message by shutting this store down," Pastor Dixon with The Coalition said.
Johnson said he also wants to send a message to local businesses that if they're profiting from the community, they should also contribute to the community.
"We would like to see educational scholarship funds," Johnson said. He also mentioned crime and drug prevention programs.
Shedid said his store is involved with the community, and holds community days, like giving away free hotdogs and soda monthly. Some representatives called it superficial.
"They were laughing at the residents walking by, and they were laughing at the people standing outside," said Jesse Williams, of the Dorchester-Waylyn neighborhood. "That is not right."
The groups are calling on others to help make changes for the better in their community.