A lone all lives matter protester camped out in front of Bed-Stuy coffee shop Burly Coffee this morning to demand that a barista take down a Black Lives Matter sign posted on the building’s front window. Gothamist first reported on the incident, which took place around 9:40 a.m. at the coffee shop, located on Kosciuszko Street, near Nostrand Avenue, and was documented in a viral video on Twitter.
The video was filmed by Rohan Singh, a neighborhood resident who tells Gothamist that he went to get a cup of coffee this morning to find the man, who Gothamist identified as Abraham Knofler, arguing with the barista.
“I’m not a racist, you are,” Knofler — who incidentally also isn’t wearing a mask, can be heard saying to the barista in the video. “This sign is offensive, you need to take it down.” He later told Gothamist that he was protesting, and that he doesn’t expect the coffee shop to take the sign down, but wanted to make a point “that all lives matter.”
In the nearly 11-minute long video, several customers, including Singh, can be seen repeatedly asking the man to move away from the counter, so they can order, and to stop harassing the barista. As the calls for him to leave get louder, though, Knofler begins to chant “all lives matter,” with his fists raised in the air. At the end of the video, Knofler can still be seen pressed up against the counter, refusing to leave.
Burly Coffee put out a statement on its Instagram account Thursday afternoon, writing that “this was not an isolated incident with this person.” The coffee shop reiterated its support for the Black Lives Matter movement and said that the safety of its staff was the establishment’s top priority. Burly Coffee also said it would give all the tips that have come through to the coffee shop’s Venmo account today to the barista who was forced to confront Knofler.
Twitter users began to call-out the man shortly after the video was posted this afternoon, with some referring to him as a “troll demon.” Many have resurfaced comments from his now-deleted Twitter account that that show support for Donald Trump, endorse white supremacy, and refer to the coronavirus pandemic as a hoax.
The incident comes just weeks after protests against police violence began across the country following the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota; placing Black Lives Matter and other signs in store windows is just one way that NYC restaurants, like Burly Coffee, have supported the city’s protests. Other establishments have opened their restrooms to the public, donated portions of their sales to black-led organizations, or prepared free meals for protesters and local residents.