Porterdale mayoral candidate Arline Chapman and some city residents take exception to the local Chevron convenience store selling adult DVDs, adult magazines, pipes and hookahs, but when Chapman called the manager a "foreign thug" on Facebook at least some disapproval was turned on her.
Chapman visited the Chevron convenience store at the intersection of Ga. Highway 81 and Crowell Road in response to a citizen’s complaint. She didn’t like what she found and made a comment on her Facebook page:
"Porterdale (police department) sent their investigator and, apparently, they (the store) slides just under the law on their merchandise. I spoke with the thug/manager who informed me that they can sell bongs etc., porno movies (a plain wrapper covers the movie but labels them porn), and magazine covers and posters that should be covered or certainly not displayed at the eye level of a 4 yr. old. He told me that the bongs were used with regular tobacco. Someone please tell me that their smoking friends break up a Lucky Strike and put it in a bong before lighting up.
"This is our city and we don’t need this trash and foreign thugs marketing it to our kids. I had never been in there before and won’t be back unless it is to watch them haul their trash out of there. I would suggest that you do the same. If the owner were to do this in his own country, he would be whacked senseless with bamboo rods at the very least. This will be taken up at Tuesday’s city council meeting."
Some residents agreed with Chapman, while others took offense at the fact she called the manager a "foreign thug." The manager is Abel Amre, a native of Ethiopa who lives in Atlanta.
"Are you for real? The foreign thugs have the same rights here as you do! They are within the law to sell the merchandise that you speak of," Rhonda Monteith responded on Facebook. "YOU wanting foreigners out of here is down right bigotry and thank God for free speech and can't wait for next election!"
Chapman who was born in Shanghai China, and whose mother is a naturalized citizen, said Tuesday that she did not mean anything derogatory by foreigner but did say she felt the manager was a thug.
"It might have been a poor choice of words. I should have waited longer (after visiting the store) before I said that on Facebook, but the fact is that the man was aggressive. The thing is there are thugs in every culture," Chapman said. "I’m a foreigner too; a thug is a thug regardless of their nationality. I’m not perfect; if that was a poor choice of words I’m willing to own up for that."
She said she was responding to a citizen’s complaint, and after visiting the store she agreed that the materials weren’t appropriate for a store where children may tag along with parents buying food, drinks and snacks.
"We have the option not going in there, but people don’t want that stuff in Porterdale. We have history of drug problems in this city," said Chapman, who noted drug use had declined but said she didn’t want a store selling devices that could be used for drugs.
The manager, Amre, said he had not received complaints from other residents before Chapman came to his store. He pointed out that the adult DVDs were located away from the rest of the merchandise and set slightly back so that people had to pass a certain point to view them. The DVDs are covered with plain brightly colored yellow, pink or blue jackets which say "Adult DVD." He said he doesn’t allow people to look at the DVDs unless they show an ID proving they are older than 18.
He also pointed out that the case holding the hookahs, flasks, pipes and other items is kept locked and said he buys the merchandise wholesale.
The adult magazines were more accessible, but their covers were blocked by other magazines in front; only the title was visible.
"Everybody has these (DVDs and magazines); you can’t just pick out one store," Amre said Tuesday. "If they use (the hookahs and pipes) wrong, that is not our problem."
The manager asked The News not to take pictures of his adult materials.
Other, though not all, convenience stores in Newton County sell adult DVDs and magazines. The Porterdale City Council was set to discuss the matter at its 6:30 p.m. work session, Tuesday night.