On Saturday, Ohio Congresswoman Joyce Beatty joined demonstrators in Columbus, Ohio, who had gathered to protest the murder of George Floyd. "I was there because I wanted the young protesters to know that in solidarity, that I stand with them," she told NBC4. "You know, I'm a grandmother, I'm an elected official, but I'm a Black woman first and I felt the pain."
After police officers allegedly "took down" one of the demonstrators, Beatty said that she stepped in between the two groups in an attempt to diffuse the situation and to protect a woman who was being treated aggressively by the officers. But instead of engaging in a dialogue, the cops responded by pepper spraying the crowd, Beatty included. “Before we knew it, the bikes were going up against a young sister standing next to me,” she said. “A gentleman was knocked to the ground and then you know what happened. People start pushing and shoving. I got caught in the middle of it."
Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin was with Beatty, and he was also pepper sprayed. A day later, the Columbus Police Department used tear gas and "fired wooden projectiles" at the crowds that were in the streets before the city's curfew took effect. "Some of what we saw yesterday from Columbus Police was aggressive," Mayor Andrew Ginther wrote in a now-deleted tweet. "We are proactively addressing these incidents. The goal is to find a better balance between public safety and peaceful protest. We will also work more swiftly to bring about change and reform."
So with those images in their minds, and with the murder of George Floyd still dominating everyone's thoughts, the employees at one Condado Tacos location in Columbus were less than enthusiastic about having to prepare a special meal for local law enforcement.
"Today on my day off, my job forced us to do a massive catering order for the Columbus police department," a Twitter user named @gsheamercer wrote on Monday. "The staff walked out and was fired. When I go in tomorrow, myself and other [sic] are gonna demand an apology and if we don’t get it we also will walk out."
"Today me and my [Assistant Kitchen Manager] were fired from Condado by the district manager for refusing to make 500 tacos for the highway patrol," Jake Widdowson added. "I regret nothing."
A spokesperson for Condado Tacos told WTTE that one of its locations had received a "paid-in-full catering order" for 500 tacos for the Ohio State Highway Patrol ( not the Columbus Police Department). Although some employees expressed that they had zero desire to fulfill the order, the spokesperson said that no one was fired for that decision.
"After a discussion with their regional manager about their concerns, [the employees] were given the option to not work on the order. The employees who expressed their concerns chose to not complete their shift last night however, their jobs remain intact at Condado if they choose to return," the spokesperson told the outlet.
Those remarks are slightly at odds with a statement allegedly written by Condado COO Johnny Zela, which has since been shared on social media. "[T]hree of our employees did not feel comfortable fulfilling the order. At that time our management and staff had a heated discussion as to why the order needed to be fulfilled," he wrote. "After a few minutes of separation, our management staff told those three employees that if they did not want to fulfill that particular order they did not have to, as we had others in the building that could put that order together."
Zela also wrote that Condado "will not discriminate" against anyone "regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, or occupation." He said that the three employees in question "chose" not to return to work but were not fired. "If those three employees are willing to understand that Condado will still serve our communities that we are in and not discriminate against anyone, we are happy to still have them be a part of the Condado family."
Condado made the decision to close all of its locations in Columbus on Tuesday "in regards to communication to our staff and the general public over this matter." But despite supposedly taking the day to communicate with the general public, the restaurant's responses on social media have been limited to a single copied and pasted statement: "We fully support our employees in making their voices heard and standing up for what they believe in," it has repeated in its Facebook comments. "Any employee who felt uncomfortable was given the opportunity to not fulfill the order. Some employees elected to not complete their shift."
Yelp reviewers have been slightly less bland in their own responses to the situation. "Serves great pan fried boot. Could use a little less salt but still wonderfully rubbery," one recent one-star review read. "Black lives matter. Treat your staff properly," another added. "Also I don't like you and you were raised poorly."
VICE has reached out to Condado Tacos for comment. As of this writing, we have not yet received a response.