Conservative and Russian media outlets began amplifying Brandon Straka’s #WalkAway campaign after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was politely asked to leave a pro-LGBT equality restaurant in Virginia. It gained further traction after Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) was mischaracterized by the right as inducing violence. The campaign was pushed by a series of sketchy Twitter accounts identified by some as bots that have worked to divide Democratic voters for the upcoming 2018 election by “walking away” from the Democratic Party.
But Straka had his own Sanders moment at a large Manhattan electronics store, according to The Epoch Times.
The activist was fresh off of the cable news circuit touting his movement. One excited customer recognized Straka and shouted out that he’d seen Straka on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show. The man then asked to take a selfie with Straka. The customer then walked away and Straka tried to speak to a store clerk about the kind of microphone he was looking for.
“He stared at me with this kind of dead-pan expression,” Straka said in a video. “And he said, ‘Are you planning to use this equipment for alt-right purposes?’”
Straka, who works as a “freelance hair dresser” claimed he “struggled to comprehend what was happening.” The clerk told him that he didn’t feel comfortable selling anything to Straka.
“It kind of took my breath away,” he said. “I said to him, ‘Listen, if you can’t sell to me, that’s fine, but, you know, person to person, I’d like to talk to you, because I don’t think you know what Walk Away is about. And he said, ‘Well, you know, I’m done. I’m not comfortable selling to you. You’re welcome to talk to someone else in the store but I’m not going to sell to you.’”
Straka said that he decided not to say anything. He went to another clerk to ask for the microphone, but they referred him to the clerk who just turned him down.
The clerk told his colleague he refused to sell anything to “that dude.”
Another sales person then went back upstairs to the section with Straka and helped him. Straka then paid for his set of electronics and left.
“I was shaking. I was hurt. I had this huge adrenaline rush. I felt embarrassed and I also felt nervous,” he explained. “At every station of the store, I’d given them my personal information. What if this kid decides to go into the computer and dox [to reveal his personal information] me? I am not a guy who has a lot of money. I can’t have people going to my apartment and harassing me.”
I’m shaking right now. I just went into a camera store to buy a camera and a light and mic, etc. and they recognized me from tv. I was refused service because they said it was for “alt right” purposes. That literally just happened.
— Brandon Straka (The Unsilent Minority) (@usminority) July 5, 2018
Straka said that he didn’t feel the store’s management should be informed, instead, he approached the media.
“My instinct is telling me to practice compassion and forgiveness here. I don’t want to see this guy getting fired. I don’t want anything bad to happen to him. I don’t want people harassing him.”
It’s unclear what the policy is for the unnamed store. For pharmacists who refuse to sell birth control to women, however, there is typically another pharmacist on duty who will. For African-Americans denied service or subjected to longer wait times on Uber and Lyft, there’s often no recourse.
Management for the store released the following statement on the incident:
“The Adorama Management Team deeply regrets the incident involving an employee in our store. Please know this is not who we are, and does not reflect the position of our owners or other staff members. This is being taken seriously and is being addressed with the highest priority.”
The Adorama Management Team deeply regrets the incident involving an employee in our store. Please know this is not who we are, and does not reflect the position of our owners or other staff members. This is being taken seriously and is being addressed with the highest priority.
— Adorama 📸 (@adorama) July 6, 2018
Favor- PLZ do not retaliate against this camera shop. All of the other employees could not have been nicer. The reason I decided 2go forward w/ the story is because I hope 2open a conversation between me & gays on the left. I’m about EMPOWERING gay people. https://t.co/ICsiyXOXA5
— Brandon Straka (The Unsilent Minority) (@usminority) July 6, 2018