The Louisville cadre of Black Lives Matter activists sent a letter to many downtown businesses demanding they “diversify” their employees. But at least one Cuban-American business owner objected to the threatening tone of the letter and posted his displeasure on Facebook.
Fernando Martinez owns a restaurant group with several Hispanic eateries. He accused BLM of using “mafia tactics” and explained his position.
“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 a public Facebook post. “… All good people need to denounce this. How can you justified (sic) injustice with more injustice?”
The response by Black Lives Matter was immediate. Several members stood outside one of the business owner’s establishments demonstrating their displeasure and confronting Martinez when he came outside to talk to them.
“If you and I can sit down as human beings that we are without screaming at each other, without calling each other names, without offending each other, we can come to an understanding,” Martinez told one protester after explaining that he felt threatened by the way the demands were delivered to his business. “… How is destroying our business going to bring any justice?”
Not surprisingly, some of the business owners who were recipients of the BLM letter are caving to the pressure. The “demands” include “employ more Black people, purchase more inventory from Black retailers and undergo diversity training” according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
- 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.
The protesters claim the business owners benefitted by the “gentrification” of the neighborhood when a public housing project was torn down. So the neighborhood is improved and this is an “injustice”? Sheesh.
One BLM activist, Phelix Crittenden, wasn’t very subtle.
Crittenden said several NuLu business owners have volunteered to sign a contract created by the protesters and are open to discussing their roles in gentrification.
But others have expressed anger and an unwillingness to work together, she said.
“How you respond to this is how people will remember you in this moment,” Crittenden said. “You want to be on the right side of justice at all times.”
And if you refuse to be on the “right side (my side) of justice at all times”? Nice business you have there. Be a shame if anything happened to it because you weren’t on the “right side of justice at all times.”
Martinez’s pleas for understanding fell on deaf ears. His restaurant has been the target of vandalism and overt threats in recent days. In response, the Hispanic community is rallying around Martinez and offering their support for his resistance.
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 release states that La Bodeguita de Mima was forced to close July 24 during a demonstration that shut down East Market Street, at which several protesters presented Martinez with the list of demands and said he “better put the letter on the door so your business is not f*cked with.”
The restaurant remained closed the next two days because “management and staff were concerned about safety,” according to the release. “30+ staff members (mostly immigrants) were unable to earn a paycheck.”
That’s what you get for not being on the “right side of justice all the time.”