Restauranteur: Vandalism Undermines Black Lives Matter Message
Wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and a baseball cap that says Oakland California, Chris Pastena’s appearance looks like he could be part of any protest like the one that passed the restaurant he operates. When he tried to stop a white woman from taking a bat to the restaurant’s door during a protest on Saturday night, a crowd of people attacked him. Another group of protesters stopped the attack. They had not realized he was a co-owner of the restaurant, Tribune Tavern, or that he owned it with his wife, who is Black.
“Who brings a bat to a protest?” said Pastena.
In a Facebook post about the incident, Pastena wrote, “Dear white woman with a bat, you do not know the harm you do. You march in a righteous protest for BLM yet you choose to attack a business that is owned by a Black woman and employees almost all POC. You are in Oakland in a diverse community, any destruction that you do hurts POC. Do you care? Or is it your privilege not to care?”
Pastena said the post was meant to start a difficult conversation about protests and the tactics used in recent protests, not only to destroy large corporate businesses and institutional buildings like Alameda County Superior Courthouse, but have also taken a toll on small businesses as well.
Pastena’s concern is not just for the community at large but for his employees who are mostly POC and depend on his restaurant to financially survive. The business has already taken a hit due to COVID-19, and he does not want to have to shut down and let go of any of the staff members he and his wife employ.
“I don’t want to make it about me, or the Tavern or the building…It’s not about me. It’s about people who are doing things that take away from the issues at hand,” Pastena said. “It’s my job to provide a safe environment for my employees.”
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