ST. LOUIS – Vandals damaged a St. Louis gas station where a black woman was allegedly kicked by employees during an altercation caught on video, prompting a tense standoff Thursday between police and protesters at the store.
The Gas Mart store on the city’s north side was ransacked Wednesday night, and a nearby car was set on fire, police said. The damage came a day after an onlooker captured video showing a woman being kicked in her abdomen and leg outside the store. Two men were later charged with misdemeanor assault.
The video quickly went viral, sparking protests that began outside the store Wednesday with protesters chanting, “Shut it down!” Anger spilled over around 11 p.m., when the store was broken into. Police said a car was set on fire with an accelerant.
No injuries were reported, and no arrests have been made related to the damage. When protesters returned on Thursday, police arrived to block the store entrance. Nearly two dozen officers stood shoulder-to-shoulder at one point.
The video of the initial expletive-laden encounter showed two men telling the 37-year-old woman to leave the front of the store. A shouting match ensued, and one of the men kicked the woman before going back inside. A second man later emerged and eventually kicked her, too.
Gas Mart has apologized in a statement, and a company representative apologized directly to the woman who was kicked.
Prosecutors on Wednesday charged Ahmed Qandeel, 19, of O’Fallon, Missouri, and Jehad Motan, 32, of St. Louis, with misdemeanor fourth-degree assault. Neither man has a listed attorney, according to online court records.
The Rev. Darryl Gray, a community activist and protest leader, said too many businesses in St. Louis are disrespectful to black patrons.
“You don’t have two grown men kicking a defenseless woman and think for whatever reason it was right,” Gray said.
He said the workers had accused the woman of loitering.