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Detroit Store Owner Apologizes for ‘Despicable’ Behavior After Spitting on Black Man During Dispute

A Detroit business is facing threats of a boycott after the owner was filmed spitting on a Black man during a parking dispute Tuesday.

Victim Ibrahim Mission posted video of the incident on his Facebook page earlier this week, showing Detroit Mercantile Co. owner Robert Stanzler flipping him the bird before spitting in the direction of the camera. At one point, witnesses said Stanzler even spit in Mission’s face.

According to the Detroit Metro Times, the drama unfolded as Mission was coordinating parking for a large networking event hosted by The Eastern, which shares a parking lot with Detroit Mercantile. Stanzler reportedly became upset when guests began parking in his portion of the lot.

Around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, witnesses said Stanzler began shouting at attendees, including Mission, standing outside the venue for parking in his area. Guests started moving their vehicles from his area of the lot — but that did not stop Stanzler from driving his truck into the lot and blocking off his section.

After that, witnesses said he jumped out of his truck and continued confronting Mission, who, at this point, had pulled out his cellphone to record the incident.

“To have anybody spit in your face — you have the racial component of an older white man spitting in a younger black man’s face, which is very loaded,” witness and event organizer ill Weaver (who spells their name with a lowercase “i”) told the Detroit Metro Times. “That still means a lot.”

They commended Misson for exhibiting such restraint and said Stanzler has been known to be a “bully.” At one point, they and others threatened to boycott Stanzler’s business, which sells Detroit-centric clothing, home goods, and other trinkets. It didn’t seem to faze the store owner, however.

“This person seems to be a repeated bully and aggressor who wields his power over people,” Weaver added. ” … He is white, toxic masculinity embodied.”

Mission then called the police, after which witnesses said Stanzler began “aggressively apologizing.” About six officers arrived at the scene and arrested the business owner before charging him with simple assault, the newspaper reported.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Stanzler and Mission reportedly knew each other beforehand. Mission said the incident left him feeling humiliated.

“I said, ‘Wow, Robert. You spit on me?” he recalled.

“It was very disrespectful,” Mission added. “… People like this should not be allowed to be in this community of Detroit and be able to feel they could take such liberties with helpers. I’ve always been a helper and I’ve never had any issue like this.”

Stanzler issued a formal apology Wednesday, calling his own actions “gross” and “despicable.”

” … My anger over a growing conflict pertaining to parking spaces between my and a neighboring business got the best of me,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “I attempted to address the matter with Mr. Mission, but things quickly escalated and I lashed out. My behavior was unconscionable, offensive, and disrespectful of another human being.”

Detroit Mercantile Co.

Robert Stanzler apology. (Facebook screenshot)

The apology was of little consolation to witnesses like Weaver, who’ve called for a boycott of the Detroit store.

“I think that a boycott is a necessity — Ibrahim and I talked about it. It doesn’t make sense that this business should be successful if this is how [Stanzler] behaves,” they told the Detroit Metro Times. ” … Apologies are just apologies. He needs to really commit to a much longer process for how he and his business are going to undo his racist actions.”

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