HOBOKEN, NJ — After a Hoboken restaurant posted videos of people criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement over the last two days, the bar's owner apologized to the community on Thursday and said that the manager responsible for the posts has been terminated.
Over two days, an Instagram page for The Ferryman on 1st bar in downtown Hoboken was filled with TikTok videos of people criticizing protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd, and critical of the Black Lives Matter movement.
One video showed a man saying "you know BLM is endorsed by the Soros and the Clinton family," a reference to what were called "conspiracy theories" in a detailed post on Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League.
Another post showed a beer with the phrase, "Black pints matter."
Other posts on the bar's account stated "All Lives Matter." A commenter on Instagram explained why the phrase could be taken as offensive: "No one questions that all lives matter ... Which is why all lives matter doesn't need to be advocated. It is the assumption by literally everyone ... However, black lives have been considered less and are still systematically discriminated against unfairly, which is why we specifically say Black Lives Matter."
On Thursday, bar owner Sean Hession posted an apology on Instagram:
<blockquote>It has been brought to my attention about some recent posts made on Instagram and Facebook. I would personally like to take the time to apologize to anyone that may have been offended. The Ferryman and Willie McBride's do not condone any forms of racism and I am completely appalled and disappointed. Although these image were posted by one of my managers I, Sean Hession, take full responsibility on this matter. I will do my due diligence moving forward to be more aware of what is being advertised on my forums. Again I apologize to all who have been offended. We love our town and customers and hope you will accept our deepest apologies.</blockquote>
During the two days in which the posts were up, people complained about the posts on Yelp and in comments on Instagram.
After the apology, some posted that it wasn't enough, and suggested the establishment donate money to an organization fighting for racial equality and justice.
Others found the personal Facebook page of the manager in question and noted that he had some of the same posts up on his page.
Hession said Thursday afternoon, in response to questions, "Said manager is no longer an employee of the Ferryman. We have a zero tolerance for this type of behavior. I personally want to apologize for his insensitive actions."
Hession clarified that the manager has been fired.
The posts came as a group called Allies 4 Justice was planning a protest on Friday at 1 p.m. at a small Hoboken park. Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and Police Chief Ken Ferrante expressed concerns Tuesday night about the planned protest in Hoboken, saying it could cause problems with social distancing and people coming for the wrong reasons. Ferrante weighed in with a new statement on Wednesday night, condemned both the killing of Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and the city's response to protests afterward, saying New Jersey and Hoboken will handle the protests better.
On Wednesday and Thursday, businesses on blocks near the uptown park were boarding up their windows (see photos and story here), but one store displayed a sign in favor of Black Lives Matter and a note that said, "We hear you We see you We support you."
Over the past four days, residents of Hoboken —a tiny mile-square city of 53,000 people across the river from Midtown Manhattan — have been asking in neighborhood Facebook groups whether Friday's protest will be peaceful (as were recent protests in Jersey City and Newark), or whether there might be danger. In fact, the mayor of Newark said on Wednesday that people who attended a protest in that city should get coronavirus tests, as they were too close together.
Allies4Justice has posted that the protest will be peaceful.
Mayor Bhalla has noted that there would be a prayer vigil in Hoboken organized by local religious groups the evening before, on Thursday at 5 p.m.
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