Using what Louisville locals are calling “mafia tactics,” a group of people associated with the Black Lives Matter movement are threatening Cuban business owners with repercussions if they don’t submit to a list of racially charged demands.
Fernando Martinez, a partner at the Olé Restaurant Group, is charging the Louisville chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement, led by Phelix Crittenden, with using “mafia tactics” to intimidate Cuban immigrant entrepreneurs, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.
During a demonstration Sunday on East Market Street, in front of the La Bodeguita de Mima restaurant, Louisville’s Cuban community warned Americans about what they’re allowing to happen around the country.
Rally-goers held signs that read, “No 2 socialism in America,” and, “We left Cuba because of socialism. Be careful what you wish for.”
Luis David Fuentes of El Kentubano, a publication for the Latin community in Kentucky, spoke during the rally. He and his fellow Cuban immigrants, he explained, have “fallen in love with this city and nation” and chose Louisville “to pursue the American dream.”
“Although our community has achieved great success in this city,” he said, according to the Courier Journal, “we continue to miss our homeland, our neighborhoods we grew up in, and our families we left behind. We did not want to leave all of those, but we had to. We had to escape the socialist government that took away our grandparents’ private businesses in 1959 and continue to restrict our civil and political rights today.”
Many Cubans, he went on to say, risked their lives to chase “freedom, respect, and prosperity” — American values he argued are now under attack “because of the diffusion and expansion of Marxist ideas.”
What are the demands?
At Crittenden’s behest, the Black Lives Matter chapter created a group called “Blacks Organizing Strategic Success,” claiming to be a “creative cooperative designed to level the playing field” by “empowering minorities with business resources [and] networking opportunities.”
Businesses in the East Market District were given the following demands:
- Adequately represent the black population of Louisville by having a minimum of 23% black staff
- Purchase a minimum of 23% inventory from black retailers or make a recurring monthly donation of 1.5% of net sales to a local black nonprofit or organization
- Require diversity and inclusion training for all staff members on a bi-annual basis
- And display a visible sign that increases awareness and shows support for the reparations movement
There are a total of eight demands. You can read all of them in the tweet below:
To hold businesses accountable to their list of demands, the Black Lives Matter group has created a rating system, tracking how many of the demands to which each establishment has submitted.
The group gives businesses one of the following scores: “ally,” “complicit,” or “failed.” They are giving businesses “the standard 25-30 days to remedy any violation,” the group noted on its website. “We will offer them a realistic opportunity [and] resources to raise their grade.”
Should any business fail to comply with the list of race-based demands, “protesters would respond by launching negative reviews and social media posts about the businesses,” according to WDRB-TV.
“There comes a time in life that you have to make a stand and you have to really prove your convictions and what you believe in,” Martinez wrote in response to the Black Lives Matter demands. “All good people need to denounce this. How can you justified [sic] injustice with more injustice?”
La Bodeguita de Mima was forced to close July 24 during a violent Black Lives Matter protest on East Market Street. During the demonstration, protesters presented Martinez with the now-infamous list of demands and said he “better put the letter on the door so your business isn’t [expletive] with.”
The Cuban-owned eatery remained shuttered for two days because “management and staff were concerned about safety.” More than 30 mostly immigrant employees “were unable to earn a paycheck.”
Crittenden claimed the demands, the bullying, and the protesting weren’t meant as a threat, the Courier Journal reported. Instead, he suggested, it is all just intended to start a conversation with business owners about how their establishments can better support black people.
One Christian professor, Denny Burk, asked on Twitter if what the Black Lives Matter chapter is doing to the Cuban business owners could be considered racketeering. In response, a lawyer, Gus Nelson, argued it could not, but added it may be a violation of a Kentucky law barring “terroristic threatening.”
According to the statute, “a person is guilty of terroristic threatening in the third degree when … he threatens to commit any crime likely to result in death or serious physical injury to another person or likely to result in substantial property damage to another person.”