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Winston-Salem Activists Stage Protest inside Trader Joe’s

About 40 protesters sat down in the Trader's Joe's store in the Thruway Shopping Center Monday to demonstrate against racial injustice, forcing the store to close earlier than scheduled.

Afterward, protesters went to the home of Mayor Allen Joines on Guinevere Lane in Winston-Salem. Joines stood in the street and spoke to protesters.

Demonstrators entered Trader Joe's at 7:15 p.m. and remained there until about 8:40. The store's manager allowed customers to enter Trader Joe's and shop for their groceries for 37 minutes before the store's entrance was locked at 7:52 p.m.

Monday's event was the city's 17th day of protests.

The protesters held a peaceful rally, but a store manager called 911 to report trespassing at the store at 7:15 p.m., police Lt. John Morris said. Three police officers soon arrived at the store and went inside.

The Trader Joe's manager didn't want to press trespassing charges against the demonstrators inside the store, Morris said.

"We just stood by to make sure everything was peaceful," Morris said.

Steve Rose, a store manager, came outside about 7:40 p.m. and told about 12 people waiting to go inside the store that the business was closing because of the protest.

"I'm sorry folks, we're over capacity," Rose said. "I appreciate your patronage, but we are closing."

Restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 allow no more than 50 people at a time inside the grocery store.

Rose told another manager, Gavin Henthorn, that after all the remaining customers inside the store had left, Rose would ask the demonstrators to leave as well. The store would then close for Monday night.

Trader Joe's officially closes at 9 p.m.

Inside the store, the demonstrators chanted the now-familiar calls of "No justice, no peace — no racist police," "Black Lives Matter," "Breonna Taylor" and "George Floyd." Just inside the store's entrance, a protester held signs that said, "Defund the Winston-Salem Police Department."

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