In Louisville, Blackmail Lives Matter

The streets of Louisville, Kentucky continue to boil over in the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to file charges against any of the police officers involved in the shooting that ended in Breonna Taylor’s death. (One officer is being charged with reckless conduct for firing shots into neighboring apartments.) Despite the fact that a judge has ordered the transcripts of the jury hearing to be made public, it doesn’t sound like much is going to change. But the more we learn about the ongoing protests that have absorbed the city over the course of the summer, the more dismal the situation sounds. We only recently found out that supposed racial justice advocates have been shaking down local businesses and making illegal demands of them in a sort of woke blackmail scheme. Those who refuse to comply have been met with threats and worse, including arson in at least one case. (Courrier-Journal)

Several protesters confronted a local restaurant operator outside his establishment Thursday after he publicly denounced a list of demands that activists have issued to dozens of businesses in NuLu, a small commercial district in downtown Louisville.

The protesters say business owners in the area have benefited from years of gentrification following the demolition of a public housing complex that displaced many Black families. And they put forth the demands during a demonstration last week, calling on the owners to employ more Black people, purchase more inventory from Black retailers and undergo diversity training.

Some owners have embraced the requests, saying they recognize the area’s history and want to make their businesses more inclusive.

But others, including restaurateur Fernando Martinez, say they take issue with how the demands were presented. Martinez dubbed them “mafia tactics” used to intimidate.

This goes far beyond any sort of “activism” or protest. What’s going on in Louisville is flatly illegal. Private citizens do not get to make mandatory policies for licensed businesses. If the businesses are in compliance with all applicable laws in terms of hiring and operating their facilities and the protesters don’t like it, they need to take it up with their legislators and have those standards changed if the majority of the public agrees with them.

Further, some of the demands being made are farcical. Business owners are being told that they need to “acknowledge their complicity” in the harm done to the Black community when a low-income housing project was demolished decades ago and the area was opened up to commercial development. The business owners didn’t demolish those buildings. They invested in the community and created jobs. And now they’re being threatened with a bad score in “social justice health and wellness ratings” that are being published online. What that translates into is a threat to unleash the mob on them unless they comply.

And it’s not just a threat. It’s already happening. As the New York Post recently reported, one owner of a local shop named Fadi Faouri has had to live inside his business property for months. And a new property he purchased to move his shop to was burned down last week.

“Stuff is being damaged on a nightly basis, people are shooting at each other every night,” said Faouri, who’s had the shop for eight years. “Every night we have a new store that got looted. They break in, they take whatever and go. They walk away.”

Business is so bad right now because of the protests, Faouri planned to move his shop a few blocks away starting Monday.

The new location was torched Thursday night.

Faouri, himself an immigrant from Jordan, doesn’t feel he is in need of any diversity training and won’t be forced to mouth the words of others under threats. Since no companies are offering insurance to businesses in Louisville during this crisis, he’s stuck paying for the losses at his new location himself. Denny Burk recently asked the pertinent question on this subject on Twitter. Why isn’t this guy’s story a national headline already?

This is blackmail and thuggery, plain and simple. And it’s being conducted in broad daylight. But the cops are so busy trying to stop the city from burning down, they probably don’t have much time to go after blackmail threats, so these mafia tactics are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.