Fernando Martinez, of Louisville, Kentucky, has delivered a speech in protest of Black Lives Matter’s demands on local businesses.
Martinez, a partner of the Olé Restaurant Group, was “one of dozens of business owners in the downtown Louisville district who recently received a letter from protesters laying out demands that aim to improve diversity in the area,” according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Several news outlets said Martinez originally posted on Facebook denouncing Black Lives Matter Louisville’s “mafia-like tactics”. The video does not appear on Martinez’s Facebook account at present, however, news outlets linked to sections of another speech delivered on the steps of Martinez’s NuLu business, La Bodequita de Mima, on August 2, in a rally alongside the Louisville Cuban community, the Courier-Journal said.
The NuLu Business Association defines NuLu, or ‘New Louisville,’ on their website as a district in Louisville known for its “art galleries, specialty stores, antique shops and a growing number of local, upscale restaurants… home to the greenest commercial building in Kentucky, many historic restoration projects, as well as several restaurants offering organic and locally sourced ingredients.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Martinez Was One of Many Local Business Owners to Receive the Letter From Louisville Black Lives Matter
At La Bodeguita De Mima on E. Market St, where members of Louisville’s Cuban community are gathering to show support for owner Fernando Martinez. He said he was threatened by BLM protesters, who sent letters to business owners in NuLu demanding to improve diversity in the area. pic.twitter.com/sFJR5c0KNM
— David J. Kim (@_DavidJKim) August 2, 2020
A letter was addressed to local NuLu businesses by activists, along with a list of demands, in response to BLM’s perceived gentrification of the area and lack of Black representation amongst businesses.
In part, the letter details the “destruction” the businesses have caused within “low-income communities, especially those with majority Black residents.”
The letter continues, “We therefore demand representation and reparations… for the gentrification that has taken place.”
The list of demands includes businesses hiring 23% Black staff, and the elimination of dress code policies which “inherently discriminate against Black folks, women, and the transgender community.” In addition, Black Lives Matter Louisville wants businesses to make monthly donations of 1.5% “of net sales to Black Local Organizations” or offer 23% Black vendor products on their shelves.
A deadline of compliance, August 17, was also noted.
Failure to comply would result in social media boycotts, and visible protests, including sit-ins outside local non-compliant establishments, organizers said.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that La Bodeguita de Mima was forced to close during protests on July 24 that shut down East Market Street. Protesters allegedly demanded the aforementioned list was placed on the restaurant’s door “so your business is not f***** with.” Protesters later returned and smashed a flower pot outside the business, the Courier-Journal said.
2. Martinez Said ‘We’re All Human’ During His Speech
Restaurant owner Fernando Martinez Amar addresses the crowd, saying he and the Cuban community support all communities. He says there are people out there who are trying to define him as a person and a business owner without speaking to him. @WLKY pic.twitter.com/a7yllDyngO
— Deni Kamper (@WLKYDeni) August 2, 2020
Martinez appeared before a crowd who were holding signs reading “No 2 Socialism in America,” “We left Cuba because of socialism. Be careful what you wish for,” and “Justice 4 All.”
“There are people out there who are trying to define who I am as a man, who I am as a businessman, and who we are as a community,” he said at the August 2 rally.
“Three of our businesses in the last week have been attacked, and the only thing we’re saying, we’re coming together as a community, and we’re not going to let anybody define who we are as people or who we are as a community.
“We’re Black, we’re Chinese, we’re white, and we’re proud of who we are.
“I’m a true believer of human decency, respect for all. We’re all human, we’re born with basic rights, and it doesn’t matter the color of your skin, your sexual preference,” he said.
3. Martinez Told the Crowd, ‘My son Is Gay’
The [BLM] activists “should be ashamed of themselves,” Fernando Martinez, a Cuban immigrant who owns La Bodeguita de Mima.
“How can I be called a bigot and a racist when my family is black? When my son is gay?”https://t.co/rMLgWboAeo
— Jan Jekielek (@JanJekielek) August 4, 2020
“My son is gay and I’m proud of him,” Martinez said when he addressed the crowd.
The Courier-Journal reported Martinez also said in his speech, “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.”
4. Martinez Confronted BLM Activists On Social Media
Martinez shared screenshots from a conversation with one poster in the group ‘No Justice No Peace Louisville,’ where they pronounced his restaurant “canceled” for not accepting the new demands.
“You are mad at Black folx demanding inclusion in a neighborhood they were forced out of,” one wrote. “Catch a case of Covid… BYE. Canceling … La Bodeguita in NuLu.”
Another poster called for protesters to assemble at Martinez’s other restaurant El Taco Luchador, calling him a racist.
In the screenshot share from August 1, Martinez said, “And this is exactly what I have been saying for a long time. This people only like immigrants as long as you agreed with their ideas.”
CEO of Louisville Urban League Sadiqa Reynolds said on Facebook she would not be patronizing Martinez’s restaurants, El Taco Luchador and La Bodeguita De Mima, asserting Martinez was “proactively [organizing] against the idea that Black Lives Matter,” and stating, “Rather than respond to demands tendered, even in the negative, and affirm that he is aware of the pain our people are in, instead he chooses to highlight what he believes is his superiority.”
5. Martinez, a Cuban Immigrant, Has Posted Anti-Socialist, Anti-Marxist Messages on His Facebook
Martinez is a Cuban immigrant, who spoke with the crowd on August 2 about “coming to the United States on a raft when he was 18 years old in search of a new life and hope,” as reported by the Courier-Journal.
His Facebook profile says he went to Heroes del Corynthia school in Havana, Cuba.
He posted anti-socialist messages on his page, including a video entitled ‘Las mentiras de Fidel Castro’ (the Lies of Fidel Castro) and a video entitled ‘Policía golpea en plena calle de La Habana a cinco Damas de Blanco’ (Police hit five Ladies in White in the middle of the Havana street.) ‘This is how much Marxist love black Cuban woman,’ he said about the latter video.
The Post Millennial reported that General Ahamara Brewster of the Revolutionary Black Panther Party of Kentucky “spoke in support of the Cuban American business owners that were concerned about their ability to do business under threat of intimidation … Brewster called the tactics of BLM activists ‘terroristic.'”
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