Weeks after a video went viral of a grandfather demanding that a West Philly bodega stop selling toy guns, a representative of the Dominican Grocery Association of Philadelphia announced he would discontinue carrying them — and made a plea to the other 1,500 city grocery stores owned by the Dominican community to do the same.
“We are motivating the grocery store owners to stop selling these gun toys in their corner stores,” said Miguel Peralta, who has owned a corner store on North 16th Street since 2010.
Peralta spoke at a news conference Wednesday held by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and asked private business owners not to sell the toys, which have been mistaken for the real thing. Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Cleveland boy, was killed in 2014 when he was seen with a lifelike air-soft-style gun. And locally, in August, a 13-year-old Grays Ferry boy was arrested for allegedly shooting the son of a Philadelphia police officer with a plastic pellet from a toy gun. The charges against him eventually were dropped.
“We want the private business owners to say, ‘No, I’m not going to sell these guns,’ and not permit them on premise," said District Attorney Larry Krasner. He noted there’s already a Philadelphia ordinance that allows police to confiscate toy guns from stores if they look realistic.
G. Lamar Stewart, vice president for the National Black Police Association, thanked Peralta — the only representative of the Philadelphia business community to speak at the event.
“His step of courage and compassion spoke a lot about who he is as a person, but also gave all of us a sense of hope there are other business owners that intend as well to step up and partner for the community," he said.
Dominicans own the majority of supermarkets and bodegas in the city, according to the the Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The viral video, tweeted by public relations executive Antoine Johnson, shows Antonio Jardine inside the Lehigh Ave. Super Market after Jardine discovered that his 10-year-old grandson was hiding a realistic-looking toy gun in his house. The workers there agreed to to stop selling the toy guns.