A rather alarming situation is developing in Louisville, Kentucky, in which local businesses are allegedly being issued demands from Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists and told that if they don’t meet the demands, their business might be “f*cked with.”
The demands are onerous, invasive, and ludicrous. They include everything from hiring quotas to training mandates to displaying a letter supporting reparations for black people to—perhaps most outrageous of all—paying a “recurring monthly donation of 1.5% of net sales to a local Black nonprofit or organization.”
While some area businesses have reportedly caved to the bullying demands, Fernando Martinez, a partner in a restaurant group, referred to the demands and alleged threats if he failed to comply as “mafia tactics.”
Fernando Martinez, a partner of the Olé Restaurant Group, was one of dozens of business owners in the downtown Louisville district who recently received a letter from protesters laying out demands that aim to improve diversity in the area, which is known for its locally-owned shops and restaurants.
Martinez has publicly denounced the demands on Facebook, calling them “mafia tactics” used to intimidate business owners. And on Thursday, a small group of protesters confronted him outside his newest restaurant, La Bodeguita de Mima, on East Market Street.
“There comes a time in life that you have to make a stand and you have to really prove your convictions and what you believe in,” Martinez wrote in his Facebook post. “… All good people need to denounce this. How can you justified (sic) injustice with more injustice?”
According to a press release, members of the city’s Cuban community will meet outside the NuLu restaurant at 4 p.m. Sunday to support the immigrant-owned business, which “has been subject to vandalism and extortion in recent days.”
The list of demands handed out to restaurant and other small businesses in the area contains the following (per the Courier Journal):
The demands and an attached contract, which were created by local organizers and activists, ask NuLu business owners to:
- Adequately represent the Black population of Louisville by having a minimum of 23% Black staff;
- Purchase a minimum of 23% inventory from Black retailers or make a recurring monthly donation of 1.5% of net sales to a local Black nonprofit or organization;
- Require diversity and inclusion training for all staff members on a bi-annual basis;
- And display a visible sign that increases awareness and shows support for the reparations movement.
Phelix Crittenden, an activist who works with Black Lives Matter Louisville, said the demands and related “NuLu social justice health and wellness ratings” were not meant to be a threat but were instead intended to start a conversation with owners about how their businesses can better reflect and support Black people.
Armed counter-protesters waving the Confederate flag gathered at the Cooke County Courthouse in Gainesville, Texas, on Sunday, as Black Lives Matter demonstrators called for the removal of a Confederate monument. Several BLM protesters were also seen carrying rifles.
“We’re here to remove the racist monument in Gainesville, Texas, which is the 30-foot Confederate statue, said Quame Jones Jr. about the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Those who are pro-Confederate like to say it is heritage, and it represents their veterans. But that is not how it is received to people that look like me.”
Anthony Chains, one of the counter-protesters, said, “You can’t erase history. It’s there, it’s permanent.” He added, “These are uneducated people who think they are being oppressed. Wake up, stop oppressing yourselves, you’re not oppressed.”
Dozens of heavily armed State Troopers and Sheriff Officers formed a human wall to keep the groups separated.
Several cities across the United States have been removing statues honouring Confederate generals and slave owners, as nation-wide protests reignited the debate around the issue following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.