Hundreds of protesters have surrounded a QuickStop in Perrine where two co-owners beat a man to death with a crowbar last week after an argument over a few cents and an exchange of racial slurs. Although the owners -- Ragheb and Nabil Sulaiman -- have been charged in the death of Akil LaRue Oliver, local activists say they want the business gone forever.
"For us, it's not about race, it's about economic bullying," the Rev. Anthony Reed tells Riptide.
The assault went down just before 6 p.m. on Nov. 18 at the store at 9720 SW 168th, when Oliver got into a heated argument with the Sulaimans. According to witnesses, Oliver thought he was shortchanged by seven cents, but the two men wouldn't give him the extra nickel and two pennies.
Oliver stormed in and out of the store, and police say he called one of the men a "fucking Arab" and told him he'd "fuck his mothers and sister." That's when Nabil grabbed a bottle and hit him over the head, and Ragheb whacked him to death with a crowbar.
Reed says Oliver was a faithful member of his church who was preparing to get married. The pastor says he doesn't know exactly what happened in the store, but that Oliver didn't deserve die. Oliver wasn't the first local customer to have trouble with the owners, Reed says.
"There's been a lot of tension with local patrons," he says. "We know now that a lot of people who patronized these businesses have been called names and have been bullied."
Reed says race isn't the problem, although Oliver's death was apparently spurred by racial slurs (Oliver's family says the clerks also dropped the N-bomb while beating him.)
The bigger problem is that national chains have taken business from local markets without adding anything to the impoverished community, he says.
"It's the haves versus the have nots, and they are trying to tell us that we either have to shop with them and deal with abuse or leave our community," Reed says. "We're saying to businesses that you need to respect people in this community and put money back into the community where you're doing business."
The store remained closed today. Reed says protesters will remain in front of the business at least through the end of this week.
Ragheb Sulaiman faces a second-degree murder charge in Oliver's death; Nabil is charged with aggravated assault