Speedway claims 'local authorities' instructed Menomonee Falls location to close doors on protesters
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A confrontation captured by Wisconsin State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, D-Milwaukee, shows a group of protesters being denied entry to a Speedway gas station that was currently serving customers Tuesday night.
“I felt like it was important for me to run up and document it," Brostoff said. "So I got there, I was able to catch some of it on film. But I feel like people need to see it, if you don’t reveal it, how can you heal it?”
The location was not scheduled to close for more than two hours. Protesters in the video appear to relay from the store manager that the decision to turn them away came from the corporate office. But Wednesday, Speedway’s parent company Marathon sent us this statement:
"At the instruction of local authorities, Speedway temporarily closed our store in Menomonee Falls, WI during the demonstration."
Both the Menomonee Falls Police Department and the Waukesha County Sheriff told CBS 58 they provided no such direction. Marathon did not respond to follow-up questioning about what local authority impacted their decision.
“This is racism in its purest form,” State Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, said.
Bowen, who was also at the protest, said the incident bears too much resemblance to businesses in the past refusing service based on skin color. The group passing the Speedway had both black and white protesters.
“What Speedway did here is to say that your kind is not welcome here," Bowen said. "Your kind is not allowed to use the bathroom here. Your kind is not allowed to get gas here.”
Protesters say they were able to enter a Kwik Trip nearby, but protest organizer Frank Nitty said it is more common than not to see a business turn them away.
“When we go to these communities, we patronize, we spend money," Nitty said. "And honestly, they’ve been doing this everywhere that we go. They turn us away. We can’t use any bathrooms, or any business. It’s like they’re teaming together to make us frustrated.”