The Woman Whose Arrest That Has Sparked Days Of Protests In Gastonia Is Speaking Out

GASTONIA, NC. — Lydia Sturgues- Robinson’s arrest, sparked days of heated protests in Gastonia. Tensions rising between protesters, counter-protesters and riot police around Tony’s Ice Cream on East Franklin Boulevard on Wednesday night. Where two days earlier, Sturgues-Robinson says she was treated badly by employees of the ice cream shop for wearing a Black Lives Matter button.

“I was treated unfairly. Simply put. It doesn’t have to do with the eye roll. I was treated unfairly. It was a feeling. You can feel it. It was tension,” says Sturgues-Robinson.

Sturgues -Robinson says another Tony’s Ice Cream employee then yelled at her.

“A lady there did yell at me and say, get out you are not wanted here. But that is also perceived to be what? That wasn’t anyone telling me to leave, that was being racist there. That was specific racism.”

She says a manager of the ice cream shop told her to leave or else she would be trespassing. The 31-year-old says she left, and outside in the parking lot, other customers were antagonizing her. She says moments later, a Gastiona police officer arrested her for trespassing.

“He roughed me up. But that’s OK that is expected as a Black person living in America. Once I get into Officer Denton’s car, I ask him if I can have my inhaler because I have chronic asthma. Which I’ve had since the age of three. He denied me that.”

10 people were arrested during a protest Wednesday night.

Two were arrested on the Gaston County Courthouse Thursday afternoon.


The City of Gastonia responded saying in part:

We are hopeful that the coming days will provide continued progress towards unity for all in our City and across the country. We will continue to monitor these interactions and provide leadership. We are asking that all persons stay calm and allow our officials to work with the community as we have been doing.”

Tony’s Ice Cream Shop did not get back to WCCB with a response. The shop did Tweet on Wednesday saying; “We love our customers and the greater Gaston county community! Thanks for the continued support.”