A South Carolina man who lost his left eye and nose to cancer is facing a new battle.
His life is not on the line, but Kirby Evans is fighting for his dignity after WTVD reported the cancer survivor was asked to leave an area business if he did not cover his face.
The owner of the convenience store where the incident occurred made her first public comments, explaining why she wants Evans to mask his appearance.
The incident occurred Oct. 8 at the Forks Pit Stop in Walterboro, according to Evans’ daughter Brandy Evans. She has mounted a social media campaign, saying her father is the victim of discrimination.
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After buying doughnuts and a drink and taking a seat at a table, Brandy wrote on Facebook that her father was confronted by store owner Donna Crosby, saying she “grabbed him by his shirt and pulled him into her office.” Once there, Kirby Evans was told he would have to cover up if he were going to eat there, according to Brandy’s post.
“The words that came out of her mouth hurt me so deep,” Evans said on Oct. 12, according to WCIV. “How can a person eat anything with his face covered?”
Crosby denies putting her hands on Evans, and her recollection of the conversation is less confrontational, although she admits asking her customer to cover his face.
“I never touched him,” Crosby said after providing surveillance footage to WCSC. “I asked him if maybe the doctor had given him an eye patch or something that he could cover the hole on his face whenever he came to dine in at the Fork.”
That would not be a solution, according to Brandy.
“My father can not cover his face with an eye patch. It rubs the eye socket raw and where his nose was. It has to stay open and nothing is to touch that area that might rub it raw,” Brandy wrote on Facebook.
Crosby says she wants to keep Evans as a customer, but she doesn’t want to lose other customers because of his appearance.
“I had customers complain. I’ve seen customers get up and throw their plates in the trash and walk out,” Crosby said, WCSC reported. “It was affecting (my) business.”
Evans has already said he will never go to the store again, WCIV reported.
The publicity surrounding this incident could hurt Crosby’s business. Along with Brandy’s posts on social media, there have been calls to boycott Forks Pit Stop.
Among them is one from the South Carolina Secessionist Party, the group best known for the annual raising of the Confederate flag in a ceremony at the S.C. State House. The group called for a boycott because it says “South Carolina is not the place for such callous, inconsiderate, and mean spirited behavior.”
Another person posted on Facebook that Crosby should face criminal charges.
Brandy’s original Facebook post on the incident has gone viral, with more than 4,300 comments, many of which were critical of Crosby and her business. It also has garnered close to 9,000 reactions and nearly 13,000 shares as of Tuesday night.
An anti-discrimination campaign has been started on change.org, asking President Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, among others, to side with Evans.
More significant is the money raised in a GoFundMe started by Brandy, named “Cancer does not discriminate.” There is no stated purpose for the money, but the campaign is described as “medical,” and in her description of the page, Brandy wrote: “My father is also on a fixed income and can not afford the surgeries it would to take to fix his where his nose was.”
The GoFundMe has eclipsed its goal of $75,000 in six days. By Tuesday evening, it had raised $77,646 from 2,588 donations.
Shortly after Crosby made her comments Tuesday, Brandy posted a message on Facebook saying “Words cut deeper then a (knife). A knife can be pulled out, words are embedded into our soul.”