DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The co-owner of a Dayton bar is bringing attention to an act of racism that was caught on camera last Friday, and the harassment of a customer that followed two days later by the same suspect.
Nearby security cameras captured the man pulling the Black Lives Matter sign off of The Barrel House’s fence before taking off with it.
“It was more frustrating, I would say, when he came back a couple days later and started harassing a black customer on our patio. He was targeting her because she was black,” Gus Stathes, the bar co-owner, said.
According to Stathes, two days after the sign was torn down, the suspect returned on Sunday and began harassing a customer who was out on the patio.
“He was walking by, she said hello, and he looked her dead in the eye and said, ‘All lives matter’ with a grin on his face as he walked away. She came in upset, like oh my God, I can’t believe that just happened,” Stathes said.
“There’s a bunch of people saying, ‘Oh so he’s racist because he took down a sign?’, but it goes farther than that. This was de facto an act of racism. He saw three words. The words didn’t say ‘only black lives matter’. They didn’t say ‘black lives matter more than your life’. They just said black lives matter, and he got inspired to rip that sign down. It’s upsetting, but what’s almost more upsetting is that people have such a hard time actually viewing this as a racist act.”
Stathes said that he has been in contact with the police and intends to file charges.
“At the very minimum, it’s theft. It’s not a huge deal if somebody stole a sign; it’s the racial implication behind it.”
Stathes said that the restaurant is trying to use this as an opportunity to shed light onto the fact that there is still racism alive in the community and work to be done.
Stathes is also encouraging people to donate to the National Conference for Community and Justice of Greater Dayton to allow some positivity to come out of the situation.
The organization focuses on serving underserved communities, providing a variety of educational programs, both free-standing and school-based, tailored to various age segments, with particular focus on elementary, middle school and high school students in the region.