JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Multiple officers with the Johnson City Police Department were gathered outside of Volunteer Pawn on Monday afternoon.
Protesters were also seen in a group on West Walnut Street as police blocked the entrance to the store’s parking lot. Several were seen wearing shirts that read “New Panthers.”
Members of the New Panthers say they were protesting the shop after they were told to leave. They said they were planning to purchase firearms after their community outreach event Monday morning.
A woman who says she went into the store as part of the group says she was assaulted.
“He should’ve been arrested right then and there,” said Emolyae Hill. “The officers saw him put his hands on me. They saw the events that transpired and still nothing happened. I had to go all the way to Jonesborough to get a summons.”
As the situation developed Monday afternoon, protesters were also seen blocking part of the road in front of the business.
“From the second we walked into the business, they racially profiled us,” said New Panther Founding member Arron Rashad Valentine. “Nobody stole anything. Nobody touched anything.”
Viewer video sent to News Channel 11 showed the altercation outside of the shop but not what happened inside.
The owner of Volunteer Pawn told News Channel 11’s Anslee Daniel by phone that she didn’t have time to answer our questions.
“They don’t wake up black,” said Jackson Brown, Emolyae’s boyfriend and New Panther member. “I wake up black everyday. I know exactly how this is. I know what it’s like to be looked at, I know what it’s like to be seen as a criminal and you don’t know anything about me.”
As of 3:40 p.m. Monday, Anslee reported that JCPD vehicles had blocked part of W. Walnut Street. Just after 6:00 p.m., protesters continued to block part of the street and then clashed with a man who showed up shouting “all lives matter.”
Several people appeared to be taken into custody and some were later released.
Johnson City Police have not commented.
“This stuff happens in little old Johnson City as well,” Hill said. “The same stuff that you see all over the news, the same stuff in big cities. The same stuff happens right here at home. Right exactly where you lay your head.”