A Virginia Beach man went to a restaurant with his 14-year-old daughter Thursday, and walked out with a lesson in protest and the power of social media.
James Perry, 40, and his daughter Brianna Eason were at Krossroads Cafe and Tavern, 4221 Pleasant Valley Road, when they saw a red No. 7 jersey on the tile floor, fastened in place with duct tape.
The jersey held the last name of Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who refused to stand during the national anthem as a protest against racial injustice.
Perry was disgusted by the display, but it wasn’t until he saw that Brianna was about to cry that he got mad.
She asked her father why the bar would tape the jersey to the floor as a doormat and he explained to her that just as Kaepernick has the right to kneel during the anthem, the bar had the right to tape his jersey to the floor.
“She looked at it like (Kaepernick) was being stepped on,” Perry said.
Perry took a picture of the jersey, wiped away the dirty footprints and took Brianna to a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch. He posted the photograph of the jersey on Facebook Saturday. The image went viral with more than 5,300 shares by Monday afternoon.
A woman who answered the phone at Krossroads Monday afternoon would only identify herself as “Angie.” She works at the restaurant and had been there for the last few days, she said, but otherwise declined to give specifics.
“Honey, there’s nothing on the floor, that’s all I can tell you,” she said. “I want nothing to do with this.”
She added that no one else was available to comment.
“There’s nobody here but me and my customers,” she said.
Jeffrey Talbert, an attorney for Krossroads according to filings with the state corporation commission, did not respond immediately to a request for comment Monday.
Although Perry acknowledges the bar’s right to protest Kaepernick’s actions, he believes the move was racially motivated.
“The customer is always right,” Perry said. “I was offended. My daughter was offended.”
Black Lives Matter 757 head Japharii Jones, 31, agreed, calling the restaurant’s actions “blatant racism.”
“I don’t know what they were trying to accomplish, but I feel like that was extremely disrespectful,” Jones said. “(Kaepernick) didn’t step on any flags or any military uniforms.”
Although Perry is surprised by how much attention the post has gotten, he’s even more shocked by the types of comments people have messaged him, including “go back to Africa.”
“I applaud Kaepernick even more now,” Perry said. “The whole point of what Kaepernick is doing is being ignored. It’s about a racial divide. This is racism at its very best.”
Mayfield can be reached at 352-431-9612.