Lone protester demands Bed-Stuy café remove ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign
'We strongly stand with Black Lives Matter and applaud our staff for standing up to the blinding hate,' Burly Coffee says in a statement
A lone white male ‘protester’ in Brooklyn demanded Thursday morning that a “Black Lives Matter” sign be removed from the front of a café in Bed-Stuy, the historically Black neighborhood made famous by Spike Lee, and the ironic demonstration was all caught on camera.
The video, posted on YouTube and Twitter, shows a man identified by Gothamist as Abraham “Avrumy” Knofler recording a barista at Burly Coffee in Bedford-Stuyvesant as he demanded her to take down the sign on the front window of the shop and adjoining bookstore.
Knofler held up other customers for more than 10 minutes in the video as he engaged in what he called a protest.
“You need to take off the sign. It’s offensive,” he said to the barista who also filmed him with her phone. Knofler insisted that he was “not racist.”
Despite the worker, who is not Black, trying her best to explain why the term “Black Lives Matter” doesn’t mean that other non-Black lives don’t matter, Knofler continued to spew his detest for the phrase that has in recent weeks, in particular, become a rallying call as tens of thousands of people marched in protest of historical and systemic racism in the United States.
“I don’t understand why this is so offensive to you, to see something saying that ‘Black Lives Matter,'” the barista said to Knofler. “It’s not saying that all lives don’t matter, it’s just saying that Black lives matter because they haven’t mattered in this country ever.”
Rohan Singh, who is heard on the video arguing with the man and pleading for him to leave, told the Gothamist, “From what the barista told me, the man specifically walked up to complain about either the sign and/or the mask policy.
“The barista was already trying to get the man to leave when I arrived. I stepped up and harshly told him to leave as well, but he wouldn’t. So then I just started filming.”
For several minutes, the lone protester shouted back and forth with the barista, Singh and several onlookers, including one resident living in an apartment directly above the café who told Knofler that he was causing a disturbance.
At one point, Knofler is told that he needs to leave not only for his disturbance over the sign but also because he wasn’t wearing a mask. Another sign on the front window said “No mask, no service,” they pointed out. However, the video ends with Knofler continuing his one-man protest. In another video, he is seen eventually walking away.
Knofler told the Gothamist that he was “making a protest” because “all lives matter.”
“They don’t have to take it down, I just wanted to defend all lives matter,” he said. The outlet pointed out that his Twitter page, which has since been scrubbed of any information, was “decidedly” pro-Trump, and often retweeted conservative figures. He also referred to coronavirus as a hoax.
Knofler eventually shared his video of the confrontation in a WhatsApp group called “All Lives Matter.”
Burly Coffee has since released a statement on the incident and reiterated its stance that “Black Lives Matter.”
“We strongly stand with Black Lives Matter and applaud our staff for standing up to the blinding hate that has appeared at our door. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident with this person and our priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our staff,” the statement said.
“We are overwhelmed by the generous support of our staff via our Venmo Tip Jar. The baristas that experienced this hatred will receive the tips directly. Burly will be making a contribution in support of the community we love and are thankful to be a part of.”
Naturally, Black Twitter had its own thoughts about the encounter. In particular, many pointed out what they saw as absurdity in a white man protesting “Black Lives Matter” in one of the most historically Black neighborhoods in the country.
See some reactions below.
In old Bedstuy this guy would be limping home. Gentrification ruins everything. https://t.co/R1NQxHuUgG
— Jaye McBride (@jayemcbride) June 18, 2020
— ✊🏾 ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER ✊🏾 (@flywithkamala) June 18, 2020
BEDSTUY, -(BLACK LIVES MATTERS.) pic.twitter.com/2dzYKnIW74
— kay-kay (@kaykay58266091) June 17, 2020
This is BedStuy. They should have beat his ass into next week. Gentrifying black neighborhoods and have the NERVE to get on some alllives bullshit. pic.twitter.com/GGde50dKYg
— vanners (@vanners9) June 18, 2020
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