Hospitality leaders across the country have expressed solidarity with those protesting the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. They’re pledging money to related causes, donating food, and working to examine the racist underpinnings of common industry practices. But others have enraged social media users after voicing opposition to the protests.
Three Chicago-areas spots have drawn ire for their responses to the police brutality protests taking place in Chicago, in all 50 states, and around the world. The owners of Steam Hollow Brewery, Spyners Pub, and Nini’s Deli now find themselves in damage control mode after disparaging the Black Lives Matter movement.
Over in Noble Square, Juan “Juany” Riesco, of family-owned cafe Nini’s Deli, went on a pro-police diatribe on Instagram on Thursday while wearing a T-shirt with a crucifix patterned off the Chicago flag. In a religious-tinged speech, he ripped the notion of defunding police, equated African Americans and Aborigines in Australia to monkeys, and said that people “believing in evolution” were racist. His brother José Riesco also ludicrously claimed that “Black Lives Matter kills more people than the Ku Klux Klan did, do you understand that?”
The comments came after customers on Instagram asked Riesco — who also runs a clothing company called Chicago Native — “do y’all believe Black Lives Matter?” In a now-hidden response, the person behind the deli’s account wrote that they stand against “ALL INJUSTICE everywhere” because of their Christian beliefs. For many following along, that sounded a lot like “all lives matter,” a phrase that’s largely perceived as mocking and diminishing Black Lives Matter.
“Y’all dead to the black community,” one Instagram user posted during Riesco’s Instagram Live post.
About 50 miles south from Chicago in Manteno, Steam Hollow Brewery has drawn national attention because of a co-owner’s Facebook posts late last week that claim George Floyd’s death is a government-led hoax designed to ignite a “race war,” according to PorchDrinking: “George Floyd isn’t dead, he is a porn star/actor who knows the officer, who isn’t even a real officer,” Steam Hollow’s Natalie White wrote in a now-deleted post. “Wake the f up.” Steam Hollow has since deactivated its Facebook page.
Maureen Sullivan, the owner of Lincoln Square LGBTQ dive bar Spyners Pub, also drew anger for her racist social media commentary on the Black Lives Matter movement, Block Club Chicago reported. “The statement that Black lives matter annoys the shit out of me,” Sullivan wrote on Tuesday in a now-deleted Facebook post that contains other racist language. Sullivan apologized for her comments in another now-deleted Facebook post later that day. A group of protesters gathered outside the bar Thursday afternoon to protest Sullivan and her business, carrying signs with messages endorsing a boycott.
Correction: June 5, 2020, 2:45 p.m. This article was changed to show that the individual in the video is José Riesco, brother of Junay Riesco.