From the Louisville Courier-Journal:
Cuban community plans rally at NuLu restaurant in response to Black Lives Matter demands
Louisville Courier Journal
Members of Louisville’s Cuban community plan to gather Sunday in support of a NuLu restaurant owner who says he was threatened by Black Lives Matter protesters during a recent demonstration.
Fernando 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, which is known for its locally-owned shops and restaurants.
Martinez has publicly denounced the demands on Facebook, calling them “mafia tactics” used to intimidate business owners. And on Thursday, a small group of protesters confronted him outside his newest restaurant, La Bodeguita de Mima, on East Market Street.
“There comes a time in life that you have to make a stand and you have to really prove your convictions and what you believe in,” Martinez wrote in his Facebook post. “… All good people need to denounce this. How can you justified (sic) injustice with more injustice?”
According to a press release, members of the city’s Cuban community will meet outside the NuLu restaurant at 4 p.m. Sunday to support the immigrant-owned business, which “has been subject to vandalism and extortion in recent days.”
The release states that La Bodeguita de Mima was forced to close July 24 during a demonstration that shut down East Market Street, at which several protesters presented Martinez with the list of demands and said he “better put the letter on the door so your business is not f*cked with.”
The restaurant remained closed the next two days because “management and staff were concerned about safety,” according to the release. “30+ staff members (mostly immigrants) were unable to earn a paycheck.”
On Thursday, a small group of protesters returned to the restaurant after seeing Martinez’s post about the demands on Facebook. While there, one protester smashed a flower pot outside the business, while the rest spoke with Martinez and other employees about why the demands are needed.
The demands and an attached contract, which were created by local organizers and activists, ask NuLu business owners to:
Adequately represent the Black population of Louisville by having a minimum of 23% Black staff;
Purchase a minimum of 23% inventory from Black retailers or make a recurring monthly donation of 1.5% of net sales to a local Black nonprofit or organization;
Require diversity and inclusion training for all staff members on a bi-annual basis;
And display a visible sign that increases awareness and shows support for the reparations movement.
Phelix Crittenden, an activist who works with Black Lives Matter Louisville, said the demands and related “NuLu social justice health and wellness ratings” were not meant to be a threat but were instead intended to start a conversation with owners about how their businesses can better reflect and support Black people.
Crittenden, who also founded the organization Blacks Organizing Strategic Success, said several NuLu business owners have volunteered to sign the contract created by the protesters and are open to discussing their roles in the gentrification of the area, which has undergone hundreds of millions of dollars in development in recent years.
At the root of the protesters’ demands is the request that business owners acknowledge the harm brought on Black residents when they were displaced from NuLu and the adjoining Phoenix Hill neighborhood during the demolition of the Clarksdale housing project in the early 2000s.
The 65-year-old complex, which abutted NuLu on Jefferson Street, was torn down in 2004 and replaced with mixed-income housing that became known as Liberty Green.
According to a 2009 Courier Journal article, just 41 of the roughly 635 families who’d been displaced at Clarksdale returned to the new development.
“NuLu is flourishing,” Crittenden said. “To see that literal line in the sand, as soon as you cross the street, it’s very disturbing. NuLu doesn’t reflect the community they sit in and claim to incorporate and serve.”
The gentrifiers must have trucked in tons of suburban Magic Dirt to cover up all that urban Tragic Dirt.
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