A group of demonstrators, some of them military veterans, gathered outside a truck stop today in Bogalusa, Louisiana. They were protesting the proprietor’s reported refusal to serve a uniformed member of the National Guard.
Local buzz says the woman who owns the business is a Muslim. She, however, told the media only that she is “of Indian descent”. If she were a Sikh, Hindu, or Christian, would she have emphasized that fact, to avoid being stigmatized as a Muslim? Your guess is as good as mine.
There is only one witness to what happened, but he is sticking by his story. The guardsmen who was allegedly turned away has not yet come forward.
Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for uploading this local TV news report:
Here’s the accompanying news article from 4WWL:
Bogalusa Gas Station at Center of Protest
BOGALUSA, La. — Protesters were camped outside a Bogalusa business on Thursday for hours calling for a boycott of the gas station.
The group claims the owners refuse to serve members of military. However, the business say that’s simply not true.
“My wife posted it on Facebook, and it’s reached thousands and thousands of people,” said Christopher Carnegie, waving to cars honking at protesters waving American flags along Highway 10 in Bogalusa.
Their concern is sparked by a Facebook post that Carnegie’s wife shared with family, friends and now the world.
Carnegie claims he saw a member of the military turned away from the gas station a few days ago.
“He walked in and got in line and the clerk told him they didn’t serve his kind and pointed at the door for him to leave. I left my stuff and walked out behind him,” said Carnegie.
“I started posting on Facebook that I was going to put an American flag on my Harley and come down here, and this is the end result,” said John Jones, who organized an impromptu protest using the social networking website.
The group spent hours in the rain joined by friends and strangers. Their message: calling for a unwavering support for the military and a boycott of SP Truck Stop.
“If it weren’t for our guys, we wouldn’t have what we have today. They wouldn’t have the stores and businesses if it wasn’t for our soldiers,” added Carnegie.
The owners of the gas station — who identified themselves as originally of Indian decent — did not want to be interviewed on-camera, but did tell Eyewitness News that they never refuse service to customers. The owner added that this incident is a misunderstanding.
“People were quick to jump on something like this. Anti-american, anti-military, they just jump on it and lash out so crazy. We have police out here now and these people can barely run their business,” said David Carpenter, a regular customer at the truck stop.
Michelle Rayner was surprised to discover protesters and Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies keeping a watchful eye on the gas station, where she works six days a week.
“I’ve never seen a military man be turned away. I’ve actually been working the counter before and I’ve waited on military men before. I’m not sure where this is coming from,” said Rayner.
A boycott and protest that has now gone viral as one man stands by what he heard.
WWL-TV tried to track down the National Guardsman at the center of this controversy, but have not been able to identify him.