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Vandals destroy cafe after mob calls eatery racist — except it was apparently a misunderstanding

An Anchorage, Alaska, restaurant was vandalized after rumors that the restaurant was racist spread on Facebook. The vandals caused about $10,000 in damage. (Image source: KTVA-TV video screenshot)

Vandals caused about $10,000 in damage to an Anchorage, Alaska, restaurant after Facebook users circulated reports that the restaurant was racist against Alaska Natives.

What are the details of the Facebook post?

A Facebook user named Anna Satler shared a post Saturday about the restaurant, reportedly relaying a friend's message, which accused cafe staff of acting in a discriminatory and racist way toward Alaska Natives.

 

(Image source: KTVA-TV video screenshot)

The post read:

**From my friend who experienced this discrimination today, 10/20/18.**

"ALASKA: DO NOT EAT at The Paris Bakery & Cafe, 6th and Denali, Anchorage. This afternoon, I was denied seating when I entered with 2 Alaska Native individuals.

Although the restaurant was nearly empty, I was explicitly told I would not be seated, as the hostess eyed the people with me. When I asked for a reason, the hostess said management 'wants a higher-end clientele.'

This is not a high-end restaurant. It does not serve alcohol. It is a cafe with 3 stars on Yelp. However, it is clearly discriminatory, but not about their food or service."

The posting is no longer visible on Satler's Facebook page, but did reach a wide audience and her post alone was shared over 200 times on the social media networking site.

What happened to the restaurant?

According to KTVA-TV, the break-in and subsequent vandalization occurred on Sunday night.

Michael Patterson, a waiter at The Paris Bakery and Cafe, told the station that the vandals dumped bleach all over the restaurant's carpets in addition to creating other damages.

"They just poured bleach everywhere," he said. "It still smells like bleach."

Patterson, whose family runs the restaurant, also revealed that the vandals destroyed the restaurant's kitchen, robbed the restaurant, and broke a natural gas pipe, which could have caused a deadly fire.

In his own Facebook post, he described some of the damage sustained in the restaurant:

My parents own Paris Cafe and Bakery. I work there as one of the waiters. Two days ago an employee and a customer got into a disagreement about seating two people who are homeless. Eventually this disagreement started to spread on FB. Since then we have received a ton of phone calls of people calling us racist against AK Native peoples.

Ironically most of the conversations I had with people were positive and full of understanding. A huge miscommunication which could have easily been cleared up through dialogue escalated. Last night we had a break in at the cafe. We were robbed, bleach was put on our carpets, our wine stolen or destroyed, our kitchen destroyed. Whoever did this also broke a natural gas pipe in the hopes that whoever opened in the morning would spark a fire (which would have been myself or my brother, we're both African-American and Iraq and Afghan War Vets) We're also neighbors with the YWCA and the Gay & Lesbian Community Center which if the cafe would have caught on fire [it's] a pretty good chance those establishments would have as well.

I understand why people are upset because racism against AK natives is real and it happens everyday but the cafe does not engage in discrimination. Most of the staff are people of color, a large amount of our customers are AK native and a good amount of our customer are homeless. We give out food all the time or let folks drink coffee who are trying to get out off the street.

We also have to deal with folks who are experiencing mental health crisis (on a regular basis) and a few act out violently toward us and other customers. We have to the right to feel safe where we work.

To whoever did this I hope you get caught. If you were trying to avenge some sort grievance all you did was potentially kill someone, or burn down a business and organizations that serve the community.

To the people who called to harass us and spread disinformation about the cafe without even bothering to ask us what happened. You also are responsible.

What did the owners say?

Patterson clarified the incident in question with KTVA.

Patterson said that after the Facebook post went viral, the restaurant was subject to nonstop calls from people telling the restaurant employees that the establishment was racist and discriminatory.

Patterson said that the incident occurred when a woman attempted to purchase food for two people who appeared to be homeless.

The hostess reportedly said that the two people who appeared to be homeless could not eat the food inside the restaurant, and would have to take the food to go.

Patterson explained that it was the second time that day that apparent homelessness caused an issue for the cafe.

"That day, two hours before [this incident], we had to deal with an individual off the street who started eating food off plates, and when she was asked to leave, she started throwing food at the waiter and customers," Patterson told the station. "We're trying to create an environment where people want to eat.

"This was a miscommunication that could have been easily talked about it then blows up over a period of time on Facebook and now you have a violent act," he added.

"I'm an Iraq War vet and my brother is an Afghan War vet," said Patterson, who opens the restaurant daily with his brother. "That we can survive deployments and then we go to open the door to our work and a spark ignited and we could have been injured or killed because a miscommunication led to an escalation through Facebook, and then people took it upon themselves to commit an act of violence is stupid."

Patterson also said that his son is Alaska Native, so he took particular exception to the notion that the restaurant is racist.

"My son is Alaska Native and if anyone treated my son like this, my mom and my family we would be the first people to stand up and say something," he explained. "So to be called racist almost on a daily basis, you know, for a variety of reasons because people don't like service, it hurts."

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