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Kentucky restaurant owner accuses Black Lives Matter protesters of using ‘Mafia tactics’

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People gather with balloons for a vigil in memory of Breonna Taylor on June 6, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. 

A Louisville, Ky., restaurant owner has accused local Black Lives Matter activists of threats and “Mafia tactics” after they demanded downtown business owners hire Black employees at rates proportionally equal to the population.

Several business owners in the city’s NuLu business district received the list of demands, which called for them to hire Black workers to fill a minimum of 23 percent of positions. The list also includes a minimum of 23 percent of purchases of inventory made from Black retailers and mandatory diversity and inclusion training twice a year, according to the Courier-Journal.

Fernando Martinez, owner of La Bodeguita de Mima, on East Market Street, claimed that after a protest closed the street on July 24, demonstrators told him he “better put [the list of demands] on the door so your business is not f—ed with.”

“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 Facebook post. “… All good people need to denounce this. How can you justified (sic) injustice with more injustice?”

Members of the city’s Cuban community rallied in support of Martinez on Sunday, according to the newspaper.

Phelix Crittenden, an activist who works with Black Lives Matter Louisville, told the newspaper the list was not intended as a threat. Rather, Crittenden said, it was intended to draw attention to the displacement of Black residents after a housing project was demolished in the early 2000s. The project was replaced with mixed-income housing, with only 41 of the 635 displaced families returning.

“NuLu is flourishing,” Crittenden said. “To see that literal line in the sand, as soon as you cross the street, it’s very disturbing. NuLu doesn’t reflect the community they sit in and claim to incorporate and serve.”

Louisville has also drawn national attention in recent months due to the March death of Breonna Taylor, a Black EMT. Louisville police serving a no-knock warrant entered Taylor’s apartment unannounced on the night of March 13. When Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker opened fire, they returned fire, killing Taylor.

The Hill has reached out to Black Lives Matter Louisville for comment.

Tags Black Lives Matter hiring Louisville Protests Small business

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