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Protests Outside Gastonia Ice Cream Shop, Confederate Monument Continue

Lydia Robinson
Alexandra Watts
Lydia Robinson was arrested Wednesday outside an ice cream shop in Gastonia.

A Confederate monument and a confrontation at a local ice cream shop in Gastonia brought people out to protest this week. 

A lot was happening Thursday on both sides of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Gastonia.

On one side of the street, Kristie Puckett-Williams with the ACLU of North Carolina, stood with a group in front of the Gaston County Courthouse.

“Oh, we got here around 1," Puckett-Williams said. "We were coming to support people who were arrested yesterday to see what their pretrial conditions of release would be.”

Puckett-Williams was referring to protestors arrested Wednesday in Gastonia.

Protesters showed up Wednesday night in downtown Gastonia after the arrest of law student Lydia Robinson and what she says happened to her Monday at Tony’s Ice Cream.

Robinson says an employee rolled her eyes at her Black Lives Matter pin and treated her differently from other customers. Robinson says she left the business after paying for her order, and that she has felt uncomfortable there before.

On Thursday, she held a press conference across from the courthouse. 

“Myself and every other minority here or that passes through has been going to Tony’s and getting treated unfairly," Robinson said. "We just deal with it. But not anymore, Tony’s. We’re not going to deal with it.”

She held a one-person protest in the parking lot. Police arrived and asked her to leave.

A https://youtu.be/ehED82TDCJY" target="_blank">video posted on YouTube shows Robinson was arrested as she walked across the street to protest more. She was charged with second-degree trespassing.

"This is about what we have been taking it to the streets for almost 60 days," Robinson said. "This is about the problem of systemic racism in this country."

Tony’s Ice Cream Shop, which has been in business since 1915, issued a statement saying there was a misunderstanding but nothing was racially motivated. Tony’s was closed on Thursday.

Another subject of debate in Gastonia is a Confederate monument on the courthouse grounds. The statue was gifted to the county in 1912. The Gaston County Commission is discussing whether to remove it.

On Thursday, Puckett-Williams said deputies told her group to move away from the monument.

"And people began to ask, ‘Why do we have to move? We’re just looking at the monument?’ They were like, ‘You’re not going to protest at this monument.,’" she said. "And we were like, ‘We’re not protesting the monument. We’re just looking at the monument.' And they were like ‘Why are you yelling?’ Y’all yelling at us."

Two people were arrested during the protest, but later released on bail alongside others taken into custody on previous dates. 

Counter protests have also happened in the area over the past few days.

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