Protestors call for closing of check cashing store
Activists, residents respond to alleged sexual assault
By Donald Barnes
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — The Coalition for Justice and Respect for Black Life rallied Nov. 29 for the immediate closure of an east side check cashing store where an alleged sexual assault of a local resident took place.
The community organization formed after the alleged assault of a pregnant woman at the Gratiot Check Cashing store on Gratiot and Knodell.
Residents joined the newly formed coalition, which marched in front of the store chanting, “We want respect.”
Oya Amakisi, spokesperson for the coalition, says people in the city are forced to shop at stores that are not Black-owned.
“We go to these places, and they don’t feel like they have to respect us,” Amakisi said.
“If you’re going to be in our community, benefiting from our community, profiting from our community and taking those resources out of our community, you definitely have to respect us or you’re going to have to leave.”
On Aug. 14, the store clerk, who appears to be of Middle Eastern descent, allegedly sexually assaulted a 30-year-old pregnant African American woman.
As reported in this paper, the clerk allegedly tried to get the woman to have sex with him when she visited the store to have her check cashed.
She reported the alleged assault that same day.
Fifteen minutes into the protest, Detroit police officers showed up inquiring about activities taking place in front of the store.
One officer informed protestors they received a call from the storeowner saying people were outside of the store shooting dice.
“You all have the right to be here,” the officer said.
Local activist Yusef “Bunchy” Shakur says there is constant disrespect from “foreign” business owners toward Blacks, all over the city.
He says the overall goal of the protest is to drive the store out of business.
Shutting the store down is an act of self-determination, he says.
According to Shakur, having the store closed would be a message to the community that Black life is respected.
“It will let folks know this type of thing will not be tolerated by anyone on any level,” Shakur told the Michigan Citizen.
“We’re not accepting that and we will address it by any means necessary.”
Jerrice Duhart says he resides in the neighborhood and believes the incident is a direct reflection of injustice.
“I came down to support. Justice isn’t always seen in this city,” said Duhart. “At best, I can just hope the store will close down. If we come together something will happen. We don’t have to keep taking this any more.”
Amakisi says the group will continue to protest as often as possible so a clear message is sent.
“We want to raise awareness. We’ll be out here regularly,” Amakisi told the Michigan Citizen.
“We’ll be here on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. We want to hit their business in the pocket; our goal is to stop the community from supporting people who don’t support us.”