Fernando Martinez, a business owner in downtown Louisville, Ky., took part in a demostration Sunday with fellow members of the Cuban community and expressed solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters even after he called their recent demands in the city “mafia tactics.”
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that business owners in the area received letters from protesters that included a list of demands to improve diversity in the community and in the workplace. The paper cited a press release that said the letter was delivered by protesters who told Martinez to put it on his front door so “your business is not f***ed with.”
The paper reported that Martinez, who is a partner of the Ole Restaurant Group and came to the U.S. on a raft at age 18, was not the only business owner who received the letter and he took to Facebook to write, "There comes a time in life that you have to make a stand and you have to really prove your convictions and what you believe in. All good people need to denounce this. How can you justified (sic) injustice with more injustice?”
The paper reported that some of the demands laid out in the letter included a minimum of 23 percent of the staff being Black and buying at least 23 percent of their goods from Black-owned retailers, to name a few.
The city, like many across the U.S., has seen anti-police protests. The protests in Louisville have largely called for justice for Breonna Taylor.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was fatally shot when police officers burst into her Louisville apartment using a no-knock warrant in the early morning hours of March 13 during a narcotics investigation. The warrant to search her home was in connection with a suspect who did not live there and no drugs were found inside.
The paper reported that about 100 members of the city’s Cuban community gathered in front of Martinez’s newest restaurants in the area known as NuLu.
The paper said Martinez gave a passionate speech and talked about how his restaurant is open to everybody. At one point, he said, “How can I be called a bigot and a racist when my family is Black? When my son is gay? I’m the proud father of a gay son, and I’m gonna fight for him against anybody.”
Sadiqa Reynolds, the president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, took to Facebook to say that she will no longer eat at the restaurant and wonders why “any human, other than a racist, would choose this time to tell us how little our lives matter.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report