A bag of candy that was being sold for $1 led to the murder of a Black man in St. Louis. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Taleb Rebhi Ali Jawher was recently charged in the death of Christopher Simmons.
Simmons reportedly went to the Phillip 66 gas station to buy a bag of candy. At some point, Jawher, a gas station clerk, began harassing Simmons. The two got into an argument and Simmons placed the bag of candy on the shelf and left the store. Jawher continued to argue with Simmons and followed him outside. At some point, Jawher pulled out a gun and shot Simmons in the back of the head. Simmons died at the entrance of the store.
The incident sheds light on the difficult relationships that often occur between Middle Eastern store owners and workers who have stores within predominantly Black communities. There is often sentiments of anti-Blackness in some Middle Eastern cultures and it often leads to strife when Middle Easterners open stores in the Black community. For instance, the National Action Network organized protests this past summer at stores owned and operated by Middle Easterners after several reports of abuse in Charleston, South Carolina. They protested after a 12-year-old was assaulted by a Middle Eastern employee; a man was struck with a sword by employees at another store in the area; and a young Black boy was kicked while attempting to buy a snack for his mother at another store.
Middle Eastern store owners have also been accused of using the Black community to gain wealth by failing to hire Black workers and disrespecting Black patrons.
The culture clashes that occur can only be resolved through more communication. But it’s also important for Black business owners to open stores and gas stations within Black communities.
Jawher has been indicted on first degree murder charges and his bail has been set at $1 million.