Woman refused service for wearing ‘Black Lives Matter’ shirt at Tenn. farmers market

FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2014 file photo, demonstrators chant, "Black lives matter," to protest police, at the Mall of America rotunda in Bloomington, Minn. The Minneapolis chapter of Black Lives Matter is planning to rally later in December 2015 at the mall to protest the November killing of Jamar Clark, a black man by Minneapolis police. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)

LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A civil rights activist says it was like turning back the hands of time when a woman was refused service at a city sponsored farmers market.

All the woman wanted was some fresh fruit and vegetables, but what she got from one vendor instead was a refusal to sell produce.

The woman was wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt.

City officials stepped in and forced the vendor to leave, but the civil rights activist may call for a boycott of the farmers market.

The incident happened with a worker with Turner & Sons Produce and Nursery in Smithville.

“With everything going on in the world today with all the racism, killings and discrimination, I was appalled,” said La Vergne resident Gwen Anthony, who is also an activist with the National Action Network, a civil rights organization. She was not the woman refused service.

Anthony said she couldn’t believe if she was hearing correctly when she heard what happened.

“I can’t believe– here we go again, we are going back,” she said.

Anthony said it was like turning back the hands of time.

“Are we still going through the same thing we went through back in the 60s?” Anthony asked. “We are not going back; we are going forward. People need to get with the times.”

La Vergne city officials confirm the incident happened.

“The City of La Vergne was made aware after the incident. The City does not tolerate discrimination of any kind, and all people are welcome,” a City spokesperson said

The vendor was asked to leave and told they would no longer be welcomed. It was also the vendor’s first time at the market.

The city wrote on their Facebook page:

Yesterday at the weekly La Vergne Farmer’s Market, a vendor refused sale to a potential customer because of a t-shirt the customer was wearing. The T-shirt was not obscene or profane, and the vendor was severely out of line to refuse service. The City of La Vergne was made aware after the incident — the City does not tolerate discrimination of any kind, and all people are welcome. Despite the vendors apology this vendor will not be welcome at future Farmer’s Market events. We are grateful to the customer for alerting us to this episode, and to the other Farmer’s Market vendors who have conducted themselves with the utmost professionalism.

Nashville, Tennessee’s News 2 reached out to the Smithville-based Turner & Sons Nursery, and the younger John Turner said by phone, “A lady approached and asked the price of my produce and then I told her the price then refused service because I seen she was wearing a shirt supporting an organization that has been protesting in a way that I thought was hazardous to our society.”

He later apologized to both the woman and the city, but that’s not good enough for Anthony.

She’s considering asking people to boycott the farmers market.

“It’s best for us to stay away, and we won’t have no problems,” Anthony said.

News 2 attempted to reach out to the woman who was refused service, but were not able to contact her.

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