I’ve never heard of TJ Helmstetter before but his Linked In account says he was a DNC associate communications director leading up to the 2016 election. Helmstetter was ejected from a DC restaurant called Hill Country BBQ on the Fourth of July after he approached a tourist who was also eating there. He initially claimed on Twitter that he’d been kicked out for “standing up to a Nazi.” Helmstetter has since deleted all of his tweets about the incident, so I’ll quote the text which is still available at Twitchy.
“Just got thrown out of Hill Country DC for standing up to a Nazi. Don’t go there ever again. They support Trump and Nazis,” Helmstetter wrote. Asked for additional details by the Post’s Dave Weigel, he added, “Guy wears MAGA hat at my favorite restaurant. I say ‘hey are you from dc?’ He says ‘no.’ I say ‘we don’t tolerate racism in this city.’ His girlfriend then physically jabs fingers into my chest and starts threatening me. Management tells me to leave, not woman who assaulted me.”
Helmstetter continued to argue that he was the victim in the situation: “Just called the manager there and his answer was “we are an equal opportunity restaurant who welcomes all political viewpoints” before hanging up on me. cool, except MAGA hats actually make clear that POC and LGBT are not welcome at all.”
“To be clear, it is the Nazi’s 1st amendment right to wear racist shit in public. And it is decent people’s 1A right to tell them they are racist pieces of shit. He exercised his 1A right, and I exercised mine. @HillCountryBBQ mgmt chose to protect the Nazi’s right but not mine,” he wrote in a subsequent tweet.
People were not terribly sympathetic to Helmstetter’s situation. The right mostly just pointed out what he’d already admitted, i.e. he started the confrontation by calling a stranger a racist and a Nazi. The restaurant, quite rightly, saw him as the instigator and asked him to leave. Someone named Ben Smith posted a thoughtful thread about DC locals respecting tourists who come to the city:
Once it became clear that he was not going to be greeted as a liberator by the progressive left, Helmstetter protected his tweets
and deleted most of them. His follower count went from just over 3,000 to 10. [Correction: TJHelm’s tweets are still protected and were not deleted. Someone started spoofing his account and was ultimately suspended for it. I’m leaving the rest of this up but everything from here down was somebody spoofing TJHelm with a very similar account name.] He then returned to Twitter and instead of taking the loss or apologizing for his behavior, started attacking people who were criticizing him. In this thread, he attacks Mollie Hemingway and then claims someone else is a racist because of a Betsy Ross flag:
All the things are racist! That includes anti-slavery Quakers apparently.
Helmstetter also put up a tweet promising to press charges against the girlfriend of the man he harassed:
Finally, for some reason, Helmstetter is trolling people by claiming he never protected his tweets:
His tweets were briefly protected while he was deleting them. [His tweets are still protected.] Anyway, I suspect this whole fiasco was intended to be a boon to Helmstetter’s career. He must have imagined progressives would rally to his defense. So far it doesn’t seem to be working out that way.
But things could change. The Washington Post working on a story about all of this. We’ll see how sympathetic they can make this guy.
Update/Correction: Okay, so the tweets responding after TJ Helm protected his account were made by someone spoofing the original account. Thanks to this user for pointing it out to me:
You can see that all of the tweets that appeared to be responses from TJ Helm were actually coming from @TheTJHeIm (with a capital letter i). Apologies for the error.