The Long Island City restaurateur who’s desperately trying to salvage the Amazon headquarters deal has filed a defamation lawsuit against the politician he allegedly threatened via text message earlier this month, QNS reports.
Following an impromptu trip to Seattle to try and personally salvage the deal, John Brown Smokehouse owner Josh Bowen texted city council staff members who opposed it, demanding they call an Amazon VP to apologize, plus further saying he would “end” city council deputy leader Jimmy Van Bramer’s career. “You can be at the back of the parade or in front of the firing squad,” part of the message read.
Van Bramer then posted a screenshot of the message on Twitter, labeling it a series of “disgusting” threats and reporting Bowen to the police. In doing so, Bowen says the politician “inaccurately and improperly” characterized his political free speech as “criminal actions,” QNS reports.
Bowen denied the messages were sent as threats. He also claims the messages were sent to Van Bramer’s chief of staff Matthew Wallace, but the city councilman’s tweet made it seem like the messages were sent directly to him. The restaurateur further accuses Van Bramer of encouraging his followers — he as over 16,000 — to “boycott” his business. His lawyer tells QNS that the politician violated Bowen’s First Amendment rights in an attempt to “undercut” his platform.
The restaurateur is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.
Van Bramer tells QNS he posted the screenshot on social media and reported the messages to law enforcement to bring awareness to the situation. “This lawsuit filed against me is frivolous, without merit, and riddles with inaccuracies,” he says.
John Brown Smokehouse is one of New York’s top barbecue restaurants, serving a faithful rendition of Kansas City-style barbecue since 2011. It’s a fairly popular spot, particularly for burnt ends, but Bowen has been getting dragged online since becoming so outspoken on the failed deal, at one point telling a reporter that seeing the Amazon workspace in Seattle made him “want to cry knowing this could all have been in Long Island City.”
See the screenshot below:
Josh Bowen, who recently went to Seattle to meet with Amazon sent this text today. It is several threats rolled into one. Demanding an elected official make a call to Amazon by a certain time - or else. This is disgusting. did others get this too? I don’t respond to threats. pic.twitter.com/Txtf53aaiN— Jimmy Van Bramer (@JimmyVanBramer) March 1, 2019
Bowen followed up with his own screenshot: