Evelyn Redic, an 89-year-old Charlotte resident said she feels diminished after she was refused restroom service at a local Circle K gas station on June 24.
“She said ‘I have never been so embarrassed,’” Katoosa Glover, Redic’s grandaughter, said in an interview with WBTV.
Redic was traveling home from Sunday service in a church van when the vehicle stopped because of a flat tire. Redic walked to the nearby gas station to use the restroom while waiting for the tire to get fixed but was told “no” when she inquired about using the bathroom. She walked back to the church van, forced to relieve herself on the side of the road.
Glover said the worker’s refusal harkens back to the Jim Crow era where Black men and women were constantly reminded of the “separate but equal” clause.
“People are tired of being mistreated,” she said, “and a woman who has been here since 1929, who has gone through that, will not experience that in 2018 without the community fighting.”
Social media has commented on Redic’s incident, calling for a boycott against the gas station. The hashtags #NotMyEvelyn and #NotMyGrandmother are being used across both Twitter and Instagram.
County Commissioner Vilma Leake said she visited the gas station on June 28 but was unable to get much information from the worker who was present. Leakes also agrees that the incident is a travesty.
“She’s a human being and they are human,” Leake said. “That is out of the ordinary to say no to somebody that age.”
However, Mecklenberg County officials say there was no foul play in the incident and point to state laws that say business owners are required to restrict bathrooms for employee use and can decide at discretion. After January 1, 2019 the law will require all new gas stations in North Carolina to have a restroom for customers to use.
Redic’s family, understanding of the measure still feel that the gas station should have made an exception and is in support of a boycott.
“I think if you are making money here in this community, you need to be taking care of your community,” Glover said. “I feel like we need some type of public apology,” she continued.
Redic was taken to the hospital after the incident but Glover says that she still remains very “weak.”
Circle K released a statement to HuffPost in response to the incident:
“Circle K is aware of the incident last week at one of its stores in Charlotte, North Carolina and we have looked into it thoroughly. “First, we want Ms. Redic to know that we are sincerely sorry that her visit to our store caused her any inconvenience. Unfortunately, Ms. Redic was at one of our small kiosk stations that does not have a restroom accessible to the public.”
“Please know that the majority of our locations in Charlotte are equipped with easily accessible public restrooms and many other amenities for our visitors,” the statement continued. We welcome Ms. Redic to one of these locations. Please also know that at Circle K, we take great pride in the partnership we have with the Charlotte community and we plan to continue down this path.”