Note: we are republishing this story amid a nationwide conversation about race and racial justice in America.
The Anacostia 7-Eleven posted a handwritten sign on the door, stating that only two students were allowed into the store at a time. The sign has sparked controversy online, mainly because store is located in a predominantly African-American neighborhood.
The sign was posted on Facebook, receiving widely mixed reactions. Some people accused the store of racism, while others maintained that it was a reasonable precaution.
When confronted about the sign, the franchisee took it down, denied its existence, and then called the police. The reporter was informed that he had a right to film the story from the public sidewalk.
The franchisee, who declined to give his name, stated that young people allegedly kept stealing from the store. He provided footage showing a large group of young men locked in the store by a security guard for allegedly stealing items.
A customer, Mickey, said: "They're doing the right thing about keeping these kids out of here. They steal, they disrespect the adults, they disrespect the elderly people. It's ridiculous...it's crazy."
However, Facebook users and some residents interpreted the sign differently.
Leon Matthews, another customer, said, "I think it's absolutely about race. They look at us and our color and language and automatically say, hey, somebody is stealing."
Others maintained that these signs had been around for decades, in white as well as black neighborhoods.
Tereko Dearman said, “I think it's a fine idea because people around here steal, and they don't want people stealing their stuff."
However, Michael Gordon disagreed, maintaining that the sign was definitely racist. "I don't think they would do that over in Georgetown at the 7 Eleven," he said.
Harvey Fitz stated that all he saw was bad public relations. "Don't paint Anacostia like that," he said.
Sources: WUSA 9