East Lake Superette
The East Lake Superette (formerly Texaco Super Deli) is a gas station and convenience store at 421 Oporto-Madrid Boulevard North (map) owned and operated by Hoang Nguyen, who incorporated it as "East Lake Supertter" (sic).
On August 17, 2007 customer Kathleen Bullard filed assault charges against Nguyen and his son Hieu. She claims he attacked her after she bought a bag of ice, mistakingly claiming that she stole it. He claims that she did steal the ice, and had done so before, and that when he confronted her, she took the first swing. The Nguyens are scheduled to appear at Birmingham Municipal Court on the charge September 25.
The incident was reported to the Birmingham City Council at their August 28 meeting, and a hearing was set for September 11. A boycott and picket line was organized outside the store on August 29 by Gwen Webb. The protests have continued each day. The Modern Market Jr across the street welcomed the protesters.
At the hearing, the Council voted unanimously to revoke Nguyen's business and liquor licenses. Their determination that the business was a "public nuisance" was based on descriptions of mistreatment of customers by neighborhood residents and officers, by the number of reports of criminal activity at the store (most reported to police by Nguyen), and by a 2001 assault charge to which Nguyen had pleaded guilty. The Council rejected the advice of city attorney Tamara Johnson to wait until the criminal case had been heard before acting. The order to close was served on September 13.
On September 14, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance granted a temporary restraining order blocking the city from closing the store. He later upheld the council's action at a September 27 hearing, ruling that their decision was not "arbitrary or capricious". Nguyen closed the store and locked up just after 11:00 AM on September 28. His lawyers plan to appeal Vance's ruling and have filed a motion in Vance's court to allow Nguyen to re-open while the appeal proceeds.
On September 25, the Nguyens pleaded not guilty to the assault charges in Municipal Court, and trial was set for March 3, 2008. The business reopened in October under the ownership of Giau Le. Le's application for an off-premises beer and wine license was tabled by the City Council after residents complained that members of Nguyen's family still worked at the store and that no African Americans had been hired. Le claimed that Nguyen's family was in the store because they still own the building, but not the business or equipment inside the building. Le also attempted to get a liquor license for a package store in a building adjacent to the Texaco, and was denied.
In 2012 Le sold the business to Hoang Nguyen, Ty Nguyen's wife. She successfully applied for an off-premises beer and wine license in July 2014, and re-established it in 2016. On November 3, 2017 Rodney Lee Williams was shot to death during a dispute with a store clerk, later identified as Ty Nguyen. After Williams threatened his life, Nguyen used pepper spray, and then shot Williams when he drew a gun. Police concluded that the shooting was justified as self-defense.
The incident prompted a new round of protests calling for the store to be closed down. Wahouma neighborhood vice president Robert Walker petitioned the City Council to revoke its license. The council's Public Safety Committee held a public hearing on the matter for January 16, 2018 and heard from other neighborhood leaders who wanted the business kept open. The committee forwarded the matter to the Council at large. The City Council voted to revoke Hoang Nguyen's business license on March 27, 2018.
- Bryant, Joseph D. (January 23, 2008) "East Lake convenience store stirs more protests." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (September 14, 2007) "North East Lake store to stay open on appeal." The Birmingham News
- Singleton, William C. (September 13, 2007) "East Lake store closes after city serves order." The Birmingham News
- Singleton, William C. (September 12, 2007) "Council revokes store's licenses." The Birmingham News
- Singleton, William C. (September 11, 2007) "City to weigh license for embattled store." The Birmingham News
- "Residents Speak Out On Behalf Of Texaco Owner." (September 12, 2007) WVTM-TV/MSNBC.
- Singleton, William C. (September 29, 2007) "Judge lifts order, East Lake store closes." The Birmingham News
- Whitmire, Kyle (January 22, 2008) "Council refuses Eastlake Texaco liquor license" Birmingham Weekly
- Roop, Lee (November 4, 2017) "Video shows 'justifiable' shooting at Birmingham convenience store." The Birmingham News
- Owens, Cody (December 20, 2017) "Show cause hearing set for Texaco Super Deli, site of deadly shooting" Birmingham City Council Public Information Office
- Edgemon, Erin (January 31, 2018) "Birmingham councilor calls North East Lake gas station a 'nuisance'." The Birmingham News
- Edgemon, Erin (March 28, 2018) "Birmingham council revokes business license for 'nuisance' North East Lake gas station." The Birmingham News
- East Lake Texaco: Up Close and Personal, interviews with protesters.