Protesters want community to "spend money somewhere else" after a series of violent incidents

Posted at 3:40 PM, Aug 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-19 08:55:05-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Several community groups protested outside of a north Nashville convenience store asking people to spend their money somewhere else following a series of alleged attacks on customers by employees.

On Saturday, men stood outside of Paul's Market located at 1800 Jefferson Street holding signs. They alleged a few employees have assaulted, shot at and kicked women and elderly customers over the last two months with no improvement or solutions from the store's management.

"There have been conversations with the ownership on several occasions. There have been negotiations and discussions about how it is we can deescalate these kinds of situations from occurring and so far we haven't been listened to," Timothy Hughes with Gideon's Army said.

On July 18th, Ayed Khawaf, 28, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after arguing with a female customer. Police reviewed surveillance video and saw Khawaf leaving the store with a golf club in hand and hitting the woman in the face. Police said at one point the victim fired shots at Khawaf in self-defense. He also ran back into the store and fired shots at her as she walked away. Khawaf told police the women was causing trouble but it's unclear what led to the assault.

"This community is right across from Fisk, and Tennessee State and Meharry and all of our valuable young people out here. So we want to show the community that you have men in this community that will not tolerate people harming our women, our children and the people of this community," Hamid Abdullah of Brother's Roundtable said.

Protesters said they would ultimately like to see the store closed or have new management.

Newschannel 5 spoke with the store manager and owner, Aziz Alberati, who hired Khawaf a few months ago. After incidents in July, Alberati had originally told protesters he needed proof of what happened. On Friday, Aug. 16, Alberati fired Khawaf and called police after learning the employee had allegedly stolen money from him and three customers.

"This guy he worked for me. He had fighting with the people and bothered them. He tell them bad words and all the stuff...I tell them 'ok I want to fix the problem but I have to have time,'" Alberati said.

Abdullah said immediate action is needed.

"But the thing is three days ago it happened again. So I know what people say but I'm more interested in what they do. What's happening is people are still being disrespected, people are still being harmed and we just can't have that. What are we suppose to do just allow it because you're holding a store in the neighborhood. We can open our own stores and we should open our own stores," he said.

Alberati took over management in 2017. Khawaf is scheduled for a court hearing on Aug. 20th.