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Houston Restaurant Owners Express Solidarity With Protesters, George Floyd’s Family

The victim of the Minneapolis police killing was a Houston native, and many local restaurant owners spoke out in support of protests

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Protesters in Downtown Houston
Photo by MARK FELIX/AFP via Getty Images

A number of Houston restaurants and food-oriented businesses took to social media over the weekend to post messages of solidarity for the family of George Floyd, people demonstrating against police brutality, and the Black community in general.

Floyd, who was killed a week ago by a Minneapolis police officer, was a native Houstonian. Floyd died after officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the back of his neck for roughly eight minutes.

Demonstrations following Floyd’s death have spread to several cities in the United States and internationally, including Houston, where several people were arrested after blocking traffic on US interstate 59 Friday evening.

Turkey Leg Hut, a popular Black-owned restaurant in the Third Ward, where Floyd grew up, initially planned an in-person vigil for Floyd on Saturday, but decided to take the vigil virtual due to social distancing concerns. Participants were asked to release balloons in Floyd’s memory. Turkey Leg Hut’s instagram account has been posting constantly about Floyd’s death, including an update when Chauvin was arrested. Turkey Leg Hut co-founder Lynn Price says that he grew up down the street from Floyd.

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Also on Instagram, the owners of neo-soul food restaurant Indigo posted multiple statements condemning police brutality throughout the weekend, including a call for reparations for Black people. West African restaurant Taste of Nigeria shared a drawing of Floyd’s face, along with the hashtag “#justiceforgeorgefloyd.”

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I’m so riddled with anxiety, anger, confusion, and so much more. I cannot help but think of my children. They wanna take me away from them. I’ve been there since they were born, and have never missed a day. I chose not to re-enlist into the Marine Corps for my children and now I’m sitting here in my “home country” afraid of every time we grace our front door it might be the last time I see them. Now I wonder what’s it worth if my children and their peers are never going to be free. Is it my responsibility as a parent to liberate them through action or play things safe and protect just my children. But I cannot . I never show my children on social media or share family time and moments. People already think they know me and they DON’T. But should I leave this earth during these moments in time, this is who I truly am, raw. There’s nothing else I take more pride in, nothing else I’m more willing to die for, nothing else I’m more willing to defend and right now my freedom to love my babies without social condition and pigment pasteurization, is at high risk. I cannot help but constantly fear for the day they try and take me away from them. While I’m sure this will be removed. It is imported that you see us black folk in all of glory and in all of our plight as human fucking beings. In this same city they murdered Philando Castile in front of his wife and child... NOT ME! #willingtodieformyfreedom #butcheringpigs #wholehogbbq #smokedpig

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#justiceforgeorgefloyd

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Buchanan’s Native Plants, which sells gardening supplies and edible plants, posted a simple, stark image that read “Black Lives Matter.” Below the image, the business wrote “We take pride in belonging to one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country. We are stronger for it. And we stand with and support our black community.”

In his Instagram stories, restaurateur Bobby Heugel called on white chefs and fellow restaurateurs to speak out. Over an image that read “Your Silence is Complicit and Anti-Black,” Heugel wrote that restaurateurs “can’t use ‘diversity’ to fuel your careers and fill your restaurants and not be outspoken on this issue.”

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I’ve spent the past few days listening, struggling to find the right words and thinking about what I must do—what we must do together—to change our broken society so we can build something whole. We have to be the change. I am an ally and a supporter of the Black community and all communities of color, and I want to work to fight the structural racism, injustice and inequality in this society. Hate and discrimination shouldn’t have a place in this world. I want to be better. Tomorrow, I'll march with the people of Houston from Discovery Green to City Hall. Houston was George Floyd's home. He was a member of this community, and I want to be there to honor his life and #demandjustice. The Underbelly philosophy has always guided me, our food, our approach to hospitality and how we live our lives. I know I have to do more, but this is where I start—from a place of inclusion, care and love. “Explore your surroundings, learn about people, where they’re from and how to dine at the same table. Learn from anyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, age, gender or sexuality. Understand that everyone has a story to tell, so ask questions and listen. Be a student of humanity, always learning.” And in this moment especially, we need to listen and learn about what we can do to support and fight alongside the Black community. It's critical. #BlackLivesMatter #Vote2020

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Over on Twitter, Lisa Seger of Blue Heron Farm took Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo to task. Acevedo received accolades this weekend for marching with protestors in Houston even while mounted HPD officers were trampling apparently non-violent protestors with police horses. On Sunday, Acevedo changed his twitter profile pic to an image of George Floyd, writing “If you have hate in your heart for people of color, get over it. This city is a majority-minority city.”

In response, Seger tweeted “I’m sick of the Acevedo humping. Racism is not about hate in the heart. It is systemic oppression, of which he is a willing tool. You do not have to have hate in your heart to endorse — actively or passively — the white supremacist power structure. He does it daily.”

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