GoFundMe halts fundraiser for Birmingham bar owned by man who called George Floyd ‘a thug’
The crowdfunding company GoFundMe has halted a fundraiser for a Birmingham bar that was engulfed in a social media firestorm stemming from controversial remarks made by the co-owner of the establishment about George Floyd, who died while in Minneapolis police custody.
The bar in question, Parkside Cafe, is located in Birmingham’s Avondale neighborhood. The $205,000 raised before the page was shuttered will still go the bar.
The fundraiser was organized by conservative activist Candace Owens, who felt that the owner was being subjected to unfair treatment because of his political views.
The initial controversy arose when the establishment’s majority owner, Michael Dykes, texted two coworkers, at least one of whom was a minority owner of the bar, the following message:
we should go up one or two dollars on everything until june 1oth. call it a protest tax because all the idiots that went to the protest are responsible for us not being able to open normal hours. any employees that went or are still going should resign. mr. Floyd was a thug, didn’t deserve to die but honoring a thug is irresponsible.
Screenshots of that message were shared among the bar’s employees; three of whom resigned their positions at Parkside.
Lacey King, one of the employees who resigned, posted on Facebook that the George Floyd related message was “just one example” of “[t]he evil texts I’ve received from [Dykes] over the years.”
King’s post has now been restricted from public viewing, but it was transcribed by Alabama Media Group.
The inciting text from Dykes was in reference to the City of Birmingham’s imposed 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew that Mayor Randall Woodfin ordered in response to the violence and looting that broke out in the city on May 31.
Many who viewed the message online were angered at Dykes calling Floyd a “thug” and for demanding his employees quit instead of protesting.
A number of social media users in the Birmingham area vowed never to patronize the bar again after reading the message, which went viral on multiple social media platforms.
“Yes, I made a mistake and called Mr. Floyd a thug. I regret that. I really do regret that. … I am sorry for what I said. I did not mean disrespect to Mr. Floyd, ever,” Dykes told Alabama Media Group.
Candace Owens, of whom Dykes is an avowed fan, appeared to catch wind of the controversy and organized the GoFundMe page to help the business through the tough times brought on by the controversy, curfew and coronavirus precautions.
Owens’ views on George Floyd closely resemble Dykes’, and he has mentioned her as an inspiration for his remarks in multiple comments.
GoFundMe told Owens that her page was found to have content they deemed “to be in support of hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind.”
The company issued a statement to the public that further explained their reasoning for suspending Owens’ account. GoFundMe said Owens had engaged in “a repeated pattern of inflammatory statements that spread hate, discrimination, intolerance and falsehoods against the black community at a time of profound national crisis.”
Owens, who is black, argued on Twitter that GoFundMe’s removal of the page constituted a “blatant form of discrimination” against conservative supporters of President Trump like herself.
According to CBS 42, the minority owners and remaining staff of Parkside issued an apology that says Dykes’ opinion “in no way reflects the opinions or beliefs of the staff or other owners.”
GoFundMe clarified to Alabama Media Group that they are taking steps to ensure that Parkside Cafe, not Michael Dykes, receives the money raised on the platform.
“I’m sorry I let everybody down. I really am. I never intended any harm. Everybody is welcome at Parkside, no matter what your skin color and politics are. I did not ever want to cause any disrespect for Mr. Floyd. I would like to apologize to the Floyd family and anybody else I offended,” remarked Dykes.