Welcome to the new America, where many citizens are arguing that hateful speech hides behind the imprimatur of the president-elect of the United States. And that speech may be taking place at a restaurant near you.
On Friday, a receipt was left on a table at a Kalamazoo, Michigan TGI Friday's. The receipt showed a Visa payment made for the amount of $41.45 and no tip, signed by one Justin Morgan. At the bottom of the receipt were written the words "Fuck you n*gger f*ggot"—followed by this hashtag: "#President Trump."
The next morning, an image of the receipt was posted to Snapchat and then to Facebook, where it went viral. News of the incident began to spread, and the Kalamazoo police were alerted.
Then, things got even more complicated. An African-American man named Justin Morgan came forward and said that the receipt was his—but that he didn't write the nasty message. Now, he wants to know who did the dirty deed in his name.
Morgan told local news that he and his fiancé, Cashenda Hegwood, went to the restaurant to celebrate her birthday on Friday night. He says their waiter sucked so he didn't leave a tip: "I didn't have a good service, that's why I didn't leave a tip on the card."
Morgan adamantly claims that he didn't write the offensive message. "Why [would] we want to write the word, or anything racial, or anything racial toward us? Because we are that color. It doesn't make sense," Hegwood said.
Now, Morgan, TGI Friday's, and local police are all on the case, hoping to find out who wrote the epithet that invoked Trump's name.
The restaurant chain provided MUNCHIES with the following comment: "Now is the time for everyone to come together. We're focused on making sure every guest and team member feels cared for, valued and respected. We've reached out to the team member and are supporting the local authorities in their investigation."
Morgan says he wants to get to the bottom of this: "It's a hate crime in my eyes, and I am planning on taking it further." The Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office has asked the server whose name is on the receipt to contact them.
And if you thought that was the only restaurant where allegations of post-election hate have been raised, think again. There are even hate-related incidents being reported in Brooklyn and Manhattan—ground zero of liberal America.
Jonas Leon, the manager at Boerum Hill's Bar Tabac, told the New York Daily News that a male Trump supporter punched a female diner in the face after two tables got into a verbal argument over the election. The victim said that she and a friend where talking about Trump when the suspect and his wife asked that the victim and her friend be moved to another table where their conversation wouldn't be heard. The restaurant instead moved the suspect to another table, but the victim claims the couple "continued to glare at us."
The suspect then allegedly left the restaurant angrily, only to barge back in and punch the woman. "He charged back in alone and socked me in the side of the head while I was still eating before running back out," the victim said.
That's not all. Wolfgang's Steakhouse apologized yesterday after two customers standing outside of their Tribeca restaurant allegedly shouted "grab them by their pussies" to three women passing by. The women told reporters that after they notified staff about the incident, employees of the restaurant told them to "calm down" because the customers were "good guys" and should be able to enjoy their meal. Wolfgang's Steakhouse has since apologized and tweeted, "We do not condone harassment of any kind. Inappropriate behavior is not a reflection of who we are."
And it's not just customers; restaurateurs themselves are not immune to joining in the hate speech. Georgios Aspiotis, the owner of a Greek restaurant in Queens called Corfu Grill, received plenty of backlash online last week after he posted a now-deleted photo of himself holding a ballot folder with the following caption: "From tomorrow we grab them by there [sic] pussy," parroting Trump's now infamous Access Hollywood bus comments. Since Aspiotis made the comment on Election Day, Corfu Grill appears to have deleted all of its social media accounts and its Yelp profile is flooded with negative reviews.
Restaurants are a place where we, the American public, get together in all of our vast diversity. Can we do so peaceably following this divisive election? Things are not looking good.