What started with an employee wearing a “Black Lives Matter” button and the manager objecting has led to the decision by the corporate headquarters to permanently close Mr. Pickle’s in Davis.
The complaint by the employee led to a letter from the owner in which he said, “I am not going to debate all the reasons for not supporting them, you wouldn’t listen anyway. The only dialogue you are interested in is one one-sided.”
He then stated, “The BLM is the flip side of the KKK. Their tactics are out of the Mafia play book.” He later added, “You and the BLM are the aggressors here, not I.”
An email from corporate on Wednesday afternoon indicated: “Mr. Pickle’s Inc. will be issuing a public statement this afternoon. The Mr. Pickle’s Davis location is permanently closed.”
Later on Wednesday, a brief message was posted on social media.
“Mr. Pickles is a franchise network of Independently owned and operated shops. Corporate has been notified of the alarming and painful statements made by the owner of the Davis shop to his staff.
“We made the decision to terminate his franchise and is now permanently closed for business. If that location ever re-opens, it will be under new ownership that upholds our corporate standards.”
The incident began with an employee who wore Black Lives Matter buttons and was told that they couldn’t wear them. The employee was supported by a number of co-workers and they went down to meet the owner in what was described as a non-confrontational manner last week.
The owner initially seemed opened to the discussion and strategies to address both the employees’ wish to publicly show support and a local call for businesses to show their support for this movement.
Other businesses were positive and supportive about displaying Black Lives Matters banners in their windows.
However, as the exchanges wore on, the owner’s messages became more contradictory and his letter was pointed.
In the letter, he accused the employees of coming to him “with the intention of forcing your beliefs and opinions on me.” He claimed, “I have only acted and reacted in defense.”
Later he said, “I have no fear of the repercussions that may come from standing up to you. I have no fear of the BLM.” He said, “If Mr. Pickle’s Davis suffers window breakage, vandalism, or theft, I have names of the people I will hold responsible.”
He said, “By force, I have given in to allowing the pins. If I had this to do over again there would be no pins, no jars, no discussion of BLM in my store, you would not get an inch.
“This stops now,” he said with bold underline. “There is no more debating.”
The Davis Chamber sent out a statement this week, not related specifically to this incident, but stating, “The senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and far too many others are heartbreaking, and have generated renewed attention on the urgent need to address longstanding inequities and injustices in America toward African Americans and all people of color.
“We at the Davis Chamber of Commerce strongly condemn acts of racial injustice and are committed to be part of the fight against racism,” the Chamber stated. “Furthermore, we recognize the tremendous costs of systemic discrimination and believe that significant actions must be taken by the business community to advocate and work for diversity, equity, and inclusion in our society and in our economy.”
Phone calls to the employee on Wednesday were not returned, and efforts to reach the company or the local owner were also unsuccessful.
—David M. Greenwald reporting