UPDATE: The gas station owner has apologized after a negative encounter between a clerk and an Asian customer. CLICK HERE to read the update.
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Stories about being berated for being Asian amid the coronavirus crisis are being reported across the country.
And now right in central Indiana, a man says a trip to the gas station gave him much more than he expected.
He said all he wanted was gas and a cup of coffee when he stopped at a Marathon gas station on Burton Lane in Martinsville. But he said when he went inside the clerk immediately started yelling at him, asking if he was Chinese, and told him to leave.
The sign on this gas station’s door says: “Coronavirus Prevention: Do not enter if you have a fever or feel ill.”
It doesn’t say anything about being Asian.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said David, who asked that we only use his first name.
He said being Asian is why he wasn’t allowed in the store Friday after filling up his car with gas.
“He continued to ask where I’m from and yelling at me. And then I told him that I am from Korean descent but was born in Louisville, Kentucky,” David said. “And haven’t traveled out of the country in many many years. And he just went off.”
David is a doctor and works with some of the people most vulnerable to the coronavirus: He treats cancer patients. He stops at that gas station often while traveling in and out of Indianapolis. But he won’t be going back now.
“He was very angry and told me to get out. I wasn’t allowed to buy anything. I’m not allowed to use the bathroom there. ‘Never come back. Don’t ever come back’ in a very violent and hateful way,” he said.
When News 8 stopped by to ask questions, we didn’t get any answers, at least not from the people who work inside. Instead they called the police.
“Exactly what I was told was that anyone of Chinese descent was not allowed in the store, and it was directly related to the spread of coronavirus,” said Martinsville Police Chief Kurt Sprivey.
The police chief says the department was told about the situation last week and the business has been advised that kind of discrimination is inappropriate. It seems like this is a case of one employee who probably stepped over the line.
The Morgan County prosecutor said while there are no hate crime laws on the books in Indiana, a person who commits a crime like battery intimidation, mischief or vandalism that is determined to be motivated by prejudice or bias could face stiffer penalties.
“Another part of me is hurt and angry and saddened by it that people can actually behave that way to another,” David said.
The Morgan County prosecutor said the incident was unacceptable, and if you experience anything like this, contact authorities.