Editor’s note: Be sure to check out the update to this story below, which includes audio from Tarver explaining just what happened, including that two men in the tent entered with masks covering their faces.
A man running a local hot dog stand in Michigan’s state capital was among those attacked by protesters of the state’s “Right to Work” legislation while he served food in a tent that was torn down yesterday. The man was also allegedly taunted when he tried to salvage some of his property.
During Tuesday’s protests — the day Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law what he said is “pro-worker” legislation — the equipment Clint Tarver uses to run Clint’s Hot Dog Cart and Casual Catering was destroyed by people some have called “union thugs.”
According to the Lansing State Journal, Tarver was hired by the pro-Right-to-Work group Americans for Prosperity to serve hot dogs in the tent. TheBlaze reported about the tent’s destruction Tuesday — and how protesters were reportedly cutting up and distributing pieces of it as “souvenirs.”
Some of Tarver’s equipment used for his business were collateral damage in the protests. He recounted to the State Journal that he was trying to salvage some of it, but a friend of his told him “you gotta get out of here.”
“So, I crawled out of the tent as they cut it. My tables were being spilled and stepped on. It was all just destroyed. I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing,” Tarver said, according to the Lansing State Journal.
But the story doesn’t end there. The community has rallied around the man known locally as “The Hot Dog Guy” and raised more than $14,000 to support his business. Here’s what the crowd-funding website, which had an initial goal to raise $2,000 to help him, said:
Early today, Clint Tarver, known as “The Hot Dog Guy” here in Lansing had his business attacked by out of line and out of control protesters near the Capitol.Everyone who has passed the hot dog cart knows what a kind and caring individual Clint is. He never fails to bestow a smile or friendly greeting. In no way he he provoke this attack, nor any of the behavior displayed toward him.
Regardless of your position on current legislation, rebuilding Clint’s Hot Dogs is something we can all support. Please give what you can to get this deserving businessman back out there!
The woman who has been updating the site, Lorilea Zabadal, wrote that by 10 a.m. Wednesday, the money raised was double that of the initial goal. She then upped the ante to $5,000. As of 3:30 p.m., $14,317 had been raised.
Zabadal wrote that she had spoken with Linda Lee, Tarver’s wife, who called the support overwhelming.
Zabadal also called up that when Tarver was trying to remove some of his equipment from the tent, he was taunted and had racial slurs slung at him. Zabadal wrote that Tarver has clarified he was working in the tent, not to be political, but because he was hired to do a job.
The website Ironic Surrealism has been documenting Tarver’s story with updates and included a tweet documenting some of the slurs (Note: We can’t verify this is Tarver pictured):
— Nick Hawatmeh (@NicolaHawatmeh) December 12, 2012
Ironic Surrealism also did some digging into Tarver’s past and found a story from Slate in February where he was at a Romney event and was quoted:
Before [Romney] spoke, Republicans heard “The Star-Spangled Banner” sung by the Old School Fellas, a zoot-suited amateur doo-wop group. “Mitt’s a good, Christian man like I am,” explained Clinton Tarver, wearing the reddest of the zoot suits.
Some in Ironic Surrealism’s comment section have also said that the Tarvers were vocal Romney supporters.
Of the support he has received from the crowd-funding website to rebuild his business, Tarver told the Lansing State Journal, “I just feel so blessed. I mean, I didn’t know I had touched so many people.”
Watch this video featuring Tarver’s business where locals express only the highest of praise for Tarver and his business:
In the video posted earlier this year, Tarver says that he’s not sure why he’s so successful but thinks it’s, in part, because he’ll talk to anyone. He says he’ll gives homeless people the time of day and even feeds them when they’re hungry.
Here’s a video showing destruction of the tent Tuesday (Content Warning: Graphic images and strong language):
Stay up to date on the funding effort of “I Support Clint” here.
Update: Clint Tarver was a guest on Dana Loesch’s FM 97.1 radio show today. In the interview he explained what happened at the tent from his perspective. He said by 11: 30 a.m. the “mayhem” started. Two men entered the tent, one wearing a devil’s mask, the other a ski mask. These two men provided Tarver with a ticket to get a hot dog, which he provided them.
“Three minutes later, they’re next to me turning coffee urns over at another table,” Tarver said on the show.
He went onto explain how he was urged by another to leave the tent, which he had to crawl out of because it collapsed. Tarver confirmed that he was targeted with racial slurs, including the “n-word” and people saying “you’re on the wrong side.”
“I said to them ‘I’m here for a job. I’m not on this side, I’m not on that side. I’m here for a job.'” Tarver recounted. “And I just stood there and took it.”
Tarver said he was soon able to get his truck and gather what was worth salvaging from the mess and he left.
Listen to Tarver’s full interview on Loesch’s show:
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