On Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at approximately 1400 hours, The Martinsville Police Department was made aware of an incident that occurred at a Gas Station/Convenience Store located at State Road 37 and Burton Lane in Martinsville.
The caller advised that his 29-year-old girlfriend of Asian descent was refused service and told to leave the business. The female subject was engaged by the store clerk, a male subject of Eastern Indian descent. She indicated she was told “Chinese people are not allowed in here” and that reference was made about the COVID-19 Virus.
The complainant stated that they did not want an officer dispatched to the location, simply requesting that law enforcement is made aware of what had happened. At the time no report was made.
On Tuesday, March 30, 2020 at approximately 11:15 hours, The Martinsville Police Department was called to the same location on Burton Lane. Police officers were requested to remove members of the media who had entered the store, while filming. Upon arrival a local news team was positioned across the street, filming the business.
As Chief of Police, I was requested to make a statement. I was advised that the news team was covering a story about an Asian subject who was confronted by the clerk of the store and refused service, specifically due to his Asian descent. It was originally believed that the news story was about the
above-mentioned incident, but it was later learned they were referencing a second and unrelated incident of a very similar nature.
It was originally reported by early media outlets that representatives of the business stated to the Martinsville Police Department that “Chinese people are not allowed in the store”. This statement was never made to the Martinsville Police Department but was actually the statement allegedly made to the complainant by the clerk. Store management and ownership expressed that they were apologetic and remorseful about the incident and stated that the subject who made such statements was no longer working at that specific lo-cation. The management was surprised by the claims and described them as uncharacteristic, sighting a possible language barrier issue. Management also stated that they had attempted to reach out to the male subject to give an apology but was unsuccessful in reaching him at the time.
The Martinsville Police Department does not support or condone any type of discrimination based on race or ethnicity, and it will not be tolerated in the City of Martinsville.
The Martinsville Police Department has also been advised that a number of civil rights groups and Chinese American groups have planned a rally at the location of the store. Any such rally would be a violation of the Governor’s Travel Ban and the ban on assemblies/groups. Anyone who attempts to assemble with be dispersed and may be subject to arrest.
Kurt B. Spivey, Chief of Police
Martinsville Police Department