A protest erupted outside a Bed-Stuy cafe over the weekend in response to an incident on Halloween where staff allegedly offered candy to white children, but not black children.
People stood outside Strand Cafe on Saturday with signs saying to boycott the coffee shop and restaurant at 492 Nostrand Avenue, between Halsey and Hancock Streets. The incident followed testimony from two Community Board 3 members who claimed they witnessed a staff member at the cafe turning away black children in costume and then handing white children candy. The owner later acknowledged the incident and said he fired the staffer responsible.
“We want a message to be sent to all the merchants in this neighborhood who don’t want us here no more because they think they can make more money from white people,” one man said, according to video from the protest.
The cafe did not immediately respond to request for comment. But in a Facebook post on Saturday, the cafe said “Our door is open for every one.” Earlier this month, the owner said that the person who was working during Halloween was new, and a manager had not been working.
“I’m an Asian & Brown who was raised in this country with multi-culture, and I believe in equivalent freedom of rights for every single human being,” the post says. “I have zero tolerance towards any discrimination and have already took appropriate measures and have fired the person responsible immediately upon hearing of the incident.”
Still, people in the neighborhood have been going to Yelp, Facebook, and the store to condemn the cafe for the alleged incident. Yelp has been monitoring Strand’s page, where more than a dozen one-star reviews have popped up since Halloween.
SINCE I MOVED TO BEDSTUY I’VE EXPERIENCED WHITE PEOPLE AND WHITE BUSINESS CONTINUE TO DISRESPECT ME AND THE PEOPLE OF THIS COMMUNITY. WE ARE SENDING A MESSAGE TO ALL BUSINESSES IN BEDSTUY: IF THERES NOT A #BEDSTUY WITH BLACK PEOPLE, THERE WON’T BE ONE WITHOUT US. ✊ ✊ ✊ pic.twitter.com/fDomYU8fl5— raúl (@fauxdeity) November 18, 2017
Bed-Stuy is a majority-black neighborhood that has been rapidly gentrifying, with more new developments and businesses moving in that some say cater to a growing population of primarily white newcomers. The protest touched on ongoing tensions, with accusations that improvements such as cleaner stores and more trees only arrived when more white residents did.
It’s yet another example of a restaurant or bar being the touchstone for racial tensions in a gentrifying neighborhood. Over the summer, multiple protests took place in Crown Heights after the owner of Summerhill promoted the new restaurant by falsely saying it had “Instagrammable” bullet holes in the wall. Becca Brennan finally plastered over the wall after weeks of backlash.