Black-owned South Florida restaurant vandalized and burglarized in possible hate crime
Owner says he doesn't hate the man who attacked him.
Jarael Holston-Jones, the owner of the Deerfield Beach restaurant Fat Boyz Barbecue, says that he was shocked and disheartened from an incident that occurred there last Monday morning.
According to SouthFlorida.com, two white suspects have been arrested and charged after burglarizing and vandalizing the South Florida eatery.
The security alert system, ADT alerted Holston-Jones about a break-in around 2:00A.M. and upon his arrival, Holston-Jones found his restaurant in complete disarray.
“Our windows were smashed. There was glass everywhere. Tables and chairs were upside down. There were forks and napkins all over the place,” Holston-Jones told SouthFlorida.com. “The cops had two guys apprehended, and they appeared to be intoxicated. There were beer cans and bottles all around.”
Note, the restaurant does not serve beer.
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To add insult to injury, upon being arrested one of the suspects suddenly flew into a rage, spewing hate speech toward the restaurant owner for nearly 10 minutes before he was taken away. At the time, the suspect was being examined to determine if he needed to go to the hospital due to cuts on his face.
“He said, ‘You n—–, what gives you the right to think you can be here?’” recalled Holston-Jones. “You n—— are the scum of the earth. Get out of our country!”
Holston-Jones, who is Black, says the suspects included an older white man, Michael Bray, 58, who kept quiet, while the younger suspect, Bruce Hodgeson, 43, dished out the racist rant.
Motives and mindsets
Holston-Jones has also revealed that there seemed to be a motive behind the hate crime.
“In talking with one of the detectives, he said the guy was angry because there’s a Black guy dating his sister and he thought I was the guy,” said Holston-Jones.
According to SouthFlorida.com, the police report does not appear to document the racial slurs, but there are reportedly redacted parts in the released document that cannot be accounted for. Hodgeson and Bray are reportedly still in police custody.
Hodgeson was found “face down” with blood running down his arms and face, surrounded by a roll of paper towels and plastic utensils. Houston-Jones believes that the men may be homeless.
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“I don’t hate him. You don’t fight hate with hate. You fight hate with love,” said Holston-Jones, who is also a former pastor. “If he was here, I’d give him a meal right now.”
The following day, Fat Boyz Barbecue reopened after $2,500 in repairs to broken windows and furnishings. Holston-Jones was relieved that no items were stolen from the restaurant, but determined they were able to break the windows with the bases of the patio umbrellas.
The community has stood beside Houston-Jones and his wife, Yolanda throughout the ordeal, which he says brought him to tears.
“They broke our windows with hate but they won’t break our spirit or passion,” he wrote on the company’s Instagram page.
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At this time, it’s unclear if the suspects will be charged with hate crimes.
“Charging him with a hate crime won’t change his heart,” said Holston-Jones. “I’d tell him there’s a better way to live your life. He just needs to look into his heart and character and find some reconciliation.”