Evelyn Redic was riding in a van with her fellow church members on Sunday, June 24 when the van got a flat tire.
While standing in 90-degree weather waiting for the tire to be repaired, Redic, an 89-year-old grandmother, asked an employee of a Charlotte Shell/Circle K gas station on Clanton Road if she could use the restroom.
She was denied, her granddaughter Katossa Glover said in a Facebook post on June 27 that was shared more than 35,000 times, had nearly 8,000 comments and more than 11,000 reactions.
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“The staffed attendant did not respond to her request as an off duty attendant refused to give her access to use the restroom,” Glover wrote. “One of the passengers advised the off duty attendant that Ms. Redic was recently released from the hospital and really needed the use of the restroom. Her plea was ignored by the store employee.”
Redic, who her granddaughter said walks with a cane because of a past stroke, “used the restroom outside on the grass near the parking lot.”
“She said ‘I have never been so embarrassed,’” Glover told WBTV, adding mentioned that the incident reminded Redic of the time of Jim Crow, when Redic was not allowed to use certain facilities because of the color of her skin.
On July 8, the family held a meeting at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, down the road from the gas station where the incident occurred. The meeting gathered people who wanted to “take a stand against this inhumane treatment toward Mrs. Redic,” her niece Lezlee wrote on Facebook.
The family is seeking a formal apology, the firing of the attendant who refused Redic access to the restroom, and an explanation of why the restrooms outside the gas station were locked.
Mecklenburg County Commissioner Vilma Leake told WBTV that she reached out to the gas station.
An employee at the gas station told Leake “we can’t say anything,” she said.
Leake encouraged people to boycott the gas station.
“She’s a human being and they are human,” Leake told WBTV. “That is out of the ordinary to say no to somebody that age.”
Circle K released a statement to HuffPost apologizing for “any inconvenience” Redic experienced.
“Circle K is aware of the incident last week at one of its stores in Charlotte, North Carolina and we have looked into it thoroughly,” the statement said. “First, we want Ms. Redic to know that we are sincerely sorry that her visit to our store caused her any inconvenience. Unfortunately, Ms. Redic was at one of our small kiosk stations that does not have a restroom accessible to the public.
“Please know that the majority of our locations in Charlotte are equipped with easily accessible public restrooms and many other amenities for our visitors. We welcome Ms. Redic to one of these locations. Please also know that at Circle K, we take great pride in the partnership we have with the Charlotte community and we plan to continue down this path.”
Supporters used the hashtags #Justice4EvelynRedic, #NotMyEvelyn and #JusticeForMissEvelyn to spread the story.