This protest turned violent — but not in the way you’d expect.
A crowd of students stormed a Park Slope cellphone store during a Friday protest that lasted for about five minutes before quickly dissolving when the young activists ditched the rally to watch a fight that broke out down the street.
The kids organized the short-lived demonstration in response to a video featuring racist remarks made by an employee of the authorized AT&T retailer at 242 Seventh Ave., which is across the street from the John Jay Educational Campus. The footage captured the worker saying “Damn, I got mad monkeys in front of my store — mad monkeys” while pupils from the learning complex staged a walkout on Wednesday as part of a national call for gun-law reform.
A student at Park Slope Collegiate, one of the four schools within John Jay, discovered the video clip on Thursday after it was posted to a public Snapchat story about the walkout, according to the pupil’s friend Amanda Lee, a Collegiate senior who said she then hastily organized the next-day after-school protest with the help of educators, the parent-teacher association, and social media.
Roughly two-dozen students showed up outside the cellphone peddler around 3:30 pm, where they chanted and waved signs condemning the employee’s vile words — which couldn’t have come at a worse time, Lee said.
“It makes me furious,” she said. “I’m fighting for you, and you’re feeding into the hate calling us monkeys? That’s not okay.”
Other workers at the shop refused to comment on their colleague’s racist remarks, but acknowledged they knew of the protest minutes before it began.
And during the rally, an employee could be seen attempting to keep busy as it unfolded — but he didn’t have to feign productivity for long, because minutes after the demonstration started, the students fled to glimpse an unrelated fight that erupted outside the nearby Rite Aid at Seventh Avenue and Fifth Street.
The mother of a student at Millennium High School, which is also within John Jay, said she was inside the pharmacy when she heard a group of young men arguing outside and then watched as the dispute evolved into a “savage” brawl when three of the teens started viciously attacking another kid.
“You don’t know how they were going to beat this boy down,” said the woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity in fear of her daughter’s safety. “They weren’t stopping, this kid was going to die.”
The mom claimed she intervened in the fracas, ripping a chain off one of the teen’s attackers as he fled the scene with his cohorts. School-safety officers sprinted after the baddies as they ran along Seventh Avenue towards Fourth Street, but made no immediate arrests, according to a cop.
The cellphone salesman whose heinous comments spawned the students’ protest, meanwhile, no longer works at the store, according to an AT&T spokeswoman, who blasted the video as “disturbing and unacceptable.”
“We are in contact with the vendor who operates the store, and understand the employee who made the video no longer works there,” said Kate MacKinnon.
©2018 Community News Group
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