On Friday, Houston city council member Michael Kubosh started a viral frenzy on social media after he compared his decision to dine out at a restaurant during the COVID-19 crisis to acts of civil disobedience carried out by civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
Kubosh made the comment in an interview with Houston television station KPRC on April 24, the same day that Hedwig Village restaurant Federal American Grill reopened its doors in defiance of the county’s “stay at home, work safe” order. “Sometimes civil disobedience is required to move things forward, and so that’s why we remember Rosa Parks,” he said in the interview.
Houston city council member Michael Kubosh explains why he's at a restaurant open for dine-in service in violation of Harris County's stay-at-home order:— Jen Rice (@jen_rice_) April 25, 2020
"Sometimes civil disobedience is required to move things forward, and so that's why we remember Rosa Parks." (via @KPRC2) pic.twitter.com/PpOCrrrlTW
The extremely offensive comparison inspired immediate scorn on social media after Houston Public Media reporter Jen Rice tweeted a video of the KPRC segment. “It is shameful that Kubosh would invoke Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement,” wrote Twitter user @nonsequiteuse. “There’s a special place in hell for people like that, and all the hand-lettered Bible verse signs and faux-piety in the world won’t exempt someone from it.” Houston Chronicle dining critic Alison Cook even chimed in, calling Kubosh’s choice of words “maximally unbecoming.”
The restaurant that Kubosh dined at, Federal American Grill, has been both criticized and cheered for its decision to reopen while the city’s restaurants are closed in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus. Some have described owner Matt Brice‘s decision as “taking a firm stand against a tyrannical government,” while others say that he’s endangering public health.
As the Houston Chronicle reported, Federal American Grill was not forced to close its doors on Friday night, and Harris County judge Lina Hidalgo declined to issue a fine to Brice.