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Korean Grocer Apologizes for Spraying Black Student With Mace During Dispute

<i> Associated Press</i>

In an attempt to defuse racial tension, a Korean-American grocer publicly apologized for spraying an African-American student with Mace during a dispute in his store.

Johnston’s Market owner Taek Won Kim made the apology to UC Berkeley junior MarQuette Jones in a statement released Friday by the Korean Community Center of the East Bay.

Kim also promised to stop using Mace in his store.

“Maybe it was my fault,” Kim told the San Francisco Chronicle later. “I apologize. I don’t want this to be a bigger thing than it is.”

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The Alameda County district attorney’s office is investigating the Feb. 19 incident, which began when Jones asked for a penny back after she bought an 89-cent bottle of juice and the incident escalated into a heated argument.

Kim sprayed Jones with the chemical while trying to kick her out of the store. Other details of the incident remained unclear.

Some African-American and Latino groups are considering a boycott of Kim’s store. Kim said that he has received telephone threats and that his shop has been vandalized since the incident.

African-American and Korean-American community leaders have been holding talks in an effort to curb racial tension stemming from the dispute. But a meeting Thursday failed to resolve the concerns of black students. African-American and Korean-American community groups have been meeting since the Los Angeles riots.

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