Black Lives Matter has got an awful lot of people on its side very fast as we’ve seen over the last few months. But the group’s latest campaign in Kentucky appears to risk alienating a group that should be key allies: fellow minorities.
Certainly, Cubans in Louisville are pushing back hard after the Black Lives Matter chapter in the city made a number of demands of one of its favorite restaurants.
More than 100 members of the city’s Cuban community gathered at La Bodeguita de Mima, on Market St., Sunday to rally in support of the immigrant-owned eatery.
The gathering came after a controversial letter from Black Lives Matter set out its requirements to improve diversity in the NuLu section of the city, which is known for its locally owned shops and restaurants.
Fernando Martinez, a partner of the Olé Restaurant Group, publicly denounced the letter’s demands on Facebook, calling them “mafia tactics” used to intimidate business owners.
On Sunday, Martinez addressed the crowd with his mother and relatives standing alongside him.
“La Bodeguita is open to everybody,” Martinez said, according to a report in the Louisville Courier Journal.
“If you’re gay, this is your home. If you’re Black, this is your home. If you’re white, this is your home. If you’re human, this is your home.”
“How can I be called a bigot and a racist when my family is Black? When my son is gay?” he asked. “I’m the proud father of a gay son, and I’m gonna fight for him against anybody.”
Black Lives Matter has demanded that businesses in the NuLu district more accurately reflect Louisville’s Black population by hiring a minimum of 23% Black staff, purchasing a minimum of 23% inventory from Black retailers or donating 1.5% of net sales to a local Black nonprofit. The group has also called for diversity and inclusion training for all staff members on a bi-annual basis.
Martinez has claimed his business was also directly threatened with violence if it did not comply.
The restaurateur, who said he escaped Fidel Castro’s Cuba on a raft aged just 18, added: “It’s sad that we have to justify who we are as people,” he said. “We need to come together as a community. We’re not an enemy of the Black community. We’re all people and we come in all colors.”
Louisville, like many cities across the U.S., has seen anti-police protests. The protests in Louisville have largely called for justice for Breonna Taylor.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was fatally shot when police officers burst into her Louisville apartment using a no-knock warrant in the early morning hours of March 13 during a narcotics investigation. The warrant to search her home was in connection with a suspect who did not live there and no drugs were found inside.