The president of a Charleston, S.C. branch of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization founded by former Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton, complained about local "Arabs," suggesting they "raped" his community.
President Elder James Johnson made the comments while reacting to a video of Middle Eastern storeowners attacking an African-American man who allegedly stole from their store in Charleston.
"In a 10 mile radius we have 34 Arab or foreign stores within our community. We’re not going to allow them to rape our community anymore," Johnson said in an interview with NBC affiliate News 2.
Johnson added that Arabs "need to go back to their country," and committed to stop them "from taking money out of our community and putting none back."
NAN's website says the organization aims to "promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, nationality or gender."
A representative from NAN, Rev. Nelson B. Rivers said that Johnson's statements were "unfortunate."
"I have spoken to the national office of the National Action Network and they wanted me to reiterate that we cannot condone any suggestions that the organization supports discrimination against any group based on national origin or heritage," Rivers said.
Johnson later clarified his comments to News 2, saying that he might have "misused" the word "rape."
"Taken out of context, we were talking about the two people in the store, not painting a broad brush about the nationality of people," Johnson said, referring to his comment about Arabs going back to their own country.