EXCLUSIVE: Emeryville business owner's racial slurs ignite community outrage

EMERYVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- On the heels of the Starbucks racial profiling controversy, the Bay Area is dealing with its very own version, involving a popcorn shop, a racial slur, and a Facebook post that went viral.

Almost on the brink of tears, Fay Eastman-Adams recalled what happened Sunday evening at the Cornology popcorn shop in Emeryville. "I tried to rationalize with that man, he didn't even care!"

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That man she's referring to, is Mark Stone, the owner of the popcorn shop, located in the city's the Bay Street shopping center. What happens after a group of about a dozen kids enters the store, is shocking.

"The moment they walked into the store, the guy, Mark threw his arms up in the air...the next thing I know, he's chasing them out of the store saying get out of here don't come out here the N-word. He said the full word."

Fay decided to share her outrage on Facebook, posting an image of Mark and her account of what happened. The post went viral, garnering almost 3-thousand reactions and more than 6,500 shares. She never expected so many people to respond.

"I just wanted him to understand that's not right," Eastman-Adams said. "He didn't apologize to me once, and I'm an African American woman and I take that highly in offense."

We convinced Mark to talk to us on camera and give his side of the story. His account of what happened was decidedly different. "About 15 young African Americans just ran into the store, one took a soda and threw it up against the wall."

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Mark says his frustration over recent crime in the area set him off. "This is the fourth time I've been robbed."

Fay doesn't believe his reasoning. "Why is he making up these stories saying he was robbed? I didn't see those kids run out with bags of popcorn!"

There is no surveillance video from that day. But Emeryville Police tell us there have been a "couple" petty thefts at the store since last fall.

But whatever did happen inside Cornology, Mark admits, there is no excuse for using this racial slur. "I said something in the heat of the very stressful situation and I regret it. I am sincerely sorry to the black community for doing that."

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Because of the Facebook post, hundreds submitted angry reviews for Cornology on the ratings site Yelp. So many in fact, Yelp suspended the submission of new reviews.
To many, this may be a case of he said versus she said. All because of a conversation that started on Facebook. But The mayor of Emeryville, John Bauters says this is a conversation that needs to happen Face to Face.

"I will facilitate an opportunity for him to sit down with the women who were witness to what he did for an opportunity for him to listen and understand what those words mean to them."

Mayor Bauters condemed the incident, saying it was not acceptable and that he would continue to fight for inclusion and change in the community. "People of color are constantly subjected to racism in this country...those statements are not acceptable but offensive and inapporpriate."

Fay believes it is not the job of others in the Emeryville community and beyond to sit back and not be afraid to bring awareness to these kinds of situations. "My family has been fighting this for generations and I'm not going to sit back in 2018. We fight."

A representative from the Bay Street development is set to sit down with Faye and two others who witnessed the incident, along with Emeryville's Mayor to discuss ways to prevent these types of interactions from happening again.
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