A Rowland Heights Chevron gas station caused widespread outrage after it posted a sign banning women from a certain ethnic background.
The sign contained two ethnic slurs commonly used to portray Romanis as traveling thieves.
"It's been used against them as a weapon frequently," said Hemet resident Anya Regewell. "Much like the N-word is to Black people, Gypsym that's what that is to Romani people from Europe."
Regewell said a Romani community member sent her a picture of the sign. Since then, she has tried to call the gas station and took the issue to social media, hoping that it will get the hateful sign removed.
Regewell said that the sign is not only offensive but bans a group of people from a business establishment because of their race or ethnicity, violating the state's Civil Rights Act.
"The community members who are involved directly and who are directly the targets are not comfortable standing up for their own rights, so we're gonna defend them," said Regewell.
Chevron's Corporate office said they were aware of the incident and that the sign has been removed.
"Chevron is committed to fostering diversity and inclusion at all levels of our company," the company wrote in a statement. "It is a cornerstone of our corporate values... We are working with the owner of the station to reinforce those values."
Employees at the store did not comment about the sign but said women have been shoplifting here and at other stores in the neighborhood on a daily basis.
"There's shoplifting going on all over the country," said Florida resident Florian Tacorian. "And it's perfectly fine to address that. But you can do that without being racist and without targeting a specific ethnic minority that happens to be incredibly persecuted because of these exact stereotypes."
Tacorian said he learned about the sign on a Romani social media group. He says these stereotypes are more harmful to immigrant families than some might imagine.
"A lot of Romani people can't even find jobs because of this," said Tacorian. "Because people automatically assume that we're criminals and we want to steal from them."
Both Regewell and Tacorian said they were glad that Chevron took swift action. However, they claimed that there are still security photos of other women in the window that some believe to be Romani.
"We want a response that shows that they actually care about the racial discrimination that's been going on and how their employees helped perpetrate that," said Tacorian.
KCAL News reached out to the independent owner and operator of the Chevron. We have not heard back yet.
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