Protesters and civil rights leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, are calling for consumers to boycott an Asian beauty supply store after its owner was caught on camera violently attacking an African-American woman because he thought she had stolen from him.
The cell phone footage of the incident shows Sung Ho Lim, the owner of Missha Beauty store, putting a female customer in a vicious chokehold, cutting off her air supply as she pleads with him to let her go.
The incident reportedly took place after the woman, whose name has not yet been released, was exiting the store and the siren went off. Lim confronted her about stealing a pair of fake eyelashes from the display, but she refuted his claims.
The video, posted by NAACP Charlotte-Mecklenburg chapter, showed the woman repeatedly telling the owner she did not steal from him. The two of them then shoved each other, prompting Lim to kick and knock her to the ground, choking her.
“Check my bag, I'm telling you I don't have anything,” the customer can be heard yelling.
The video has sparked protests across west Charlotte, with many staging demonstrations outside the beauty store.
It is also unclear if the authorities recovered anything from the woman’s bag. However, the police have not charged her, despite the fact that Sung filed a report for “strong-armed robbery.”
“When he was choking her, he was almost choking her to death. She was gasping for breath, and he was continually choking her,” recalled witness Teresa Mosely.
Meanwhile, the store owner claims the video did not capture the part where the woman stole from him. However, he does plan to apologize for his shameful conduct.
“I don’t know; it just happened. I went crazy,” he later told WBTV. “No matter what the reason, I feel very sorry to her and to them.”
Civil rights activists had a lot to say about the whole ordeal, which reminded many of the sad demise of Eric Garner, whose last words — “I can’t breathe” — became a slogan for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“You cannot take police matters in your own hands. You can't act like the police,” said prominent civil rights leader John C. Barnett. “Whatever the case may be, we know he cannot be keeping someone in a choke hold, stealing or not.”
That is true.
Even if she stole from him, he had no right subduing her violently.
“He took it upon himself to treat her in a way that no woman should be treated. In fact, no person should be treated,” remarked NAACP member Corine Mack. “That's why I'm so disgusted and hurt.”
Following the public backlash, Lim lost his job.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Charles Platiau