pictured above: Among those pictured during Tuesday’s protest at Speedway was Eric Martin Sr. (front left) and activist Charley H. Fisher (right) who, along with the family, is leading the protests. Challenger Photo
On July 9, Eric Martin Jr., 30 years old, went into the Speedway Gas Mart on Kenmore Avenue near Englewood after work, where he purchased gas and two scratch off tickets and went home.
The next morning he woke up and realized he had two $50 winners. Martin, accompanied by his wife and two children, went back to the store the next day to redeem his prize.
Instead he experienced a near “George Floyd* moment.”
Appearing on the Buffalo On Fire talk show last Saturday morning on Power 96.5 WUFO Radio, Eric Martin Sr. his father, called it a “nightmare situation,” and said that he was “still in disbelief” over what happened to his son. “If it happened to us it can happen to anybody,” the well known entertainment promoter in WNY added. “It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.”
Here’s the scenario he shared: When his son Eric Jr. and his family went to redeem his winning tickets, he was paid $50 for one ticket and told the second ticket didn’t register.
The manager asked him where he got the ticket from. He told her that he purchased it at their Speedway establishment the day before. At one point the police were called and seven police officers showed up – including three detectives.
“Four police officers and three detectives show up on a call for a Black man with a scratch off!?!” exclaimed Martin.
They asked for his ID and he questioned why, insisting that he had a right to ask, but was told “we ask the questions around here. ” The young Martin, ultimately produced his ID which showed that he lived right around the corner from Speedway in a home he and his wife had just recently purchased.
You would think right about now common sense would kick in continued Eric Sr., but then they tell him they want him to go with them to the police station. His son initially rebuffs the “offer” explaining that he’s never been in trouble before. “You mean like you want me to get into the back of the police car? Or do you want me to meet you there?” he said paraphrasing his son. They say no, we want you to get in the back of the police car. Eric still wants to know why and points out that he has his wife and children with him.
Now it gets physical. They cuff him. He’s standing up in handcuffs and defenseless when four officers pick him up and slam him .He’s still handcuffed. Now they’re on top of him. At one point one of the officers appears to be doing a martial arts maneuver on his ribs while another officer has his elbow on Eric’s neck and he’s trying to cover his mouth.
This and more, he said, is all on video.
“When I get there my son is already gone. They’ve charged him with resisting arrest and possession of stolen property,” Eric Sr. noted.
What’s not on video is what happened to Eric when he was taken to the Tonawanda Police Headquarters on Sheridan Drive, said activist and close family friend Charley H. Fisher who has been leading the protests in front of Speedway since last week.
“There he was stripped-searched in the presence of a female officer,” Fisher revealed.
-Apologies Ring Hollow–
Eric Sr. called (Speedway) corporate and talked to them and they gave him a case number and said the would get back to him. They also viewed the video.
“ A few hours later I get a call from the Tonawanda police saying they wanted to apologize, that they made a mistake and wanted to drop all the charges against my son,” said Martin.
“But their apologies ring hollow,” Fisher added. “This (protest and call for justice) is for Little 8-year-old Trevor, Eric Jr.’s son, who saw his father being accosted by police and subdued – he’s traumatized.
“This has also been a teaching moment,” the long time community activist continued.
“Eric Martin Jr. must know there is a recourse to this racist…. insensitivity to our people. ”The family has retained an attorney and protests near Speedway continued this week.
(Note: The Martins say they have reason to suspect there also may be a scam operation taking place at that location and want the manager fired. * George Perry Floyd Jr. was the Black man killed during an arrest after allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill in Minneapolis.He was handcuffed, slammed to the ground. A white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes as he died pleading for his life Two others held him down.The video of his murder went viral and led to world-w ide “Black Lives Matter” protests which stil continue).