New York City and surrounding cities were rocked over the weekend by the discovery of multiple explosive devices—including one that detonated in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, injuring 29 people on Saturday night.
On Monday morning, police released information on Ahmad Khan Rahami, who was identified as the primary person of interest in the Saturday night blast, an explosion in New Jersey's Seaside Park on Saturday morning and a failed bomb attack Sunday night near a train station in Elizabeth, N.J. Millions in the Tri-State area received mobile alerts as police urged citizens to come forward. Rahami was captured hours later.
Rahami was born in Afghanistan but is a US citizen and resident of Elizabeth—where his family still owns a restaurant, First American Fried Chicken.
When it first opened for business, the fried chicken eatery was open 24 hours and, according to The New York Times, attracted noisy crowds late into the night.
After several complaints from neighbors, the City Council ordered that the restaurant close no later than 10 p.m. The Rahamis allegedly ignored the complaints-- and a city ordinance-- continuing to serve food late into the night. One of Rahami’s brothers who worked at First American, assaulted a police officer who came by to enforce the curfew. He was arrested but then fled to Afghanistan.
The Rahamis sued the mayor, City Council, and local police force on the grounds of racial and ethnic discrimination in 2011. But Elizabeth’s mayor Christian Bollwage told the Times that the crackdown on the fried-chicken restaurant was solely due to the public disturbances surrounding it and had nothing to do with the family ethnic background.
As news of Rahami's connection to the restaurant was made public, Yelpers started to flood the review page for First American Fried Chicken. Some are leaving one-star reviews, others are trashing the food, many are lambasting the restaurant as a breeding ground for terrorists, while others are posting “jokes” about the restaurant being a “blast.”
First American Fried Chicken is blowing up right now on Yelp!! pic.twitter.com/jFc2K8Pik3
— El Niño was a bust (@elnino2015_16) September 19, 2016
"First American Fried Chicken" reviews on Yelp were what I expected pic.twitter.com/wFqBKjLulI
— Ty (@tyswizzles) September 19, 2016
Since comments started flooding the page this morning, the restaurant’s rating has dropped to below two stars. Reviews dated before Sept. 19 were generally positive.
According to Times, regulars at the restaurant describe Rahami as "friendly" and that he “hung out on the sidewalk with friends,” and often gave regulars free chicken.
On Monday afternoon, Yelp had activated its “Active Cleanup Alert,” a message warning people that when a business makes headlines, associated reviews may be about the news, not the restaurant or business itself.
“This business recently made waves in the news, which often means that people come to this page to post their views on the news,” says the site.
“While we don’t take a stand one way or the other when it comes to these news events, we do work to remove both positive and negative posts that appear to be motivated more by the news coverage itself than the reviewer’s personal consumer experience with the business.”