Nail Expo protest 2020-07-10 065
Local News

Nail salon incident sparks protest on Friday

Protesters outside Nail Expo on Halsted Street decried the treatment of a young Black woman who alleged a nail tech grabbed her arm on Monday. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

About 25 people demonstrated in front of Nail Expo, 17852 S. Halsted St. in Homewood, starting at 11 a.m. Friday to protest what they said was disrespectful treatment of a young Black woman by a store employee and inadequate response to the situation by Homewood police.

What started the conflict was an apparent misunderstanding between a customer and a nail technician on Monday that escalated into a confrontation. There are conflicting accounts of what happened during the incident.

Protesters outside Nail Expo on Halsted Street decried the treatment of a young Black woman who alleged a nail tech grabbed her arm on Monday. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

In a post Tuesday in a local social media group, the woman said a friend settled her bill, but the nail tech grabbed her by the arm as she tried to leave, apparently unaware her bill had been paid.

The post included a brief video clip of a Homewood police officer who responded to the scene. It also included screenshots of the woman’s credit card receipt for the transaction and a police department victim information notice.

A Homewood spokesperson said police were called to the store by a manager who reported an alleged theft of services. The woman contacted police separately to report the alleged physical contact. 

No charges or citations were issued by police. 

“The customer’s complaint was taken seriously. Charges could not be filed against the manager as there was no legal justification,” according to the village statement.

“This is based on the manager’s, and two independent witnesses’ accounts of the incident confirming the manager did not grab her arm or touch her outside the store. A subsequent review of the CCTV footage within the business also confirmed that the manager did not grab the customer’s arm in the store,” the village statement said.

A protester distributes bottled water during the demonstration at Nail Expo on Halsted Street. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

The woman involved in the incident was at the protest but declined to talk to the Chronicle. Her mother, Florence Gardner of Olympia Fields, said her daughter’s wrist was injured in the encounter. 

She said the conflict with the store employee was upsetting, but she was more disappointed with the response by the police.

“That’s who we lean on. She called for them to help her, and they didn’t,” she said. “I’m just hoping we can bring awareness and educate everyone to know we have to treat each other equal. That’s our main goal.”

The alleged physical contact and lack of police action were the two main reasons for the protest at the shop, according to demonstration leaders Eric A. Russell, executive director of Tree of Life Justice League Illinois, and Tyrone F. Muhammad, executive director of Ex-cons for Community and Social Change, both based in Chicago.

“We’re demanding respect for our people. Black customers, they matter. Black dollars matter,” Russell said. “You will not disrespect Black women and expect us not to do anything and not to say anything.”

Trish Flowers of Homewood said it was important for people to speak out in defense of the woman who was involved in the incident. 

“When you don’t say something when somebody is victimized, then you are saying that it is OK,” he said. “It is not OK.”

The incident was also situated by protesters in a larger context of racial inequality.

“America’s got to get it together. If we start winning you tie our hands up. If we speak up we’re angry Black women,” said Laflora Flowers of Homewood. “Enough is enough.”

No one from the salon was available for comment during the protest. The shop, which has open hours posted from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays, was closed when protesters arrived, according to Muhammad.

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