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5 Maryland crab house locations closed the day after demonstrators protest racist comments by operator

Kellie Vaughan, center, is organizing protests outside Vince's Crabhouse restaurant locations to discourage customers from patronizing the restaurant because of what the protesters consider racist social media posts by the owner. This Vince's Crabhouse in Middle River is closed Sunday, June 7, 2020. Vaughan was joined by Deacon Anthony Anderson, left, Rikki Vaughn, right, and a handful of other protesters stationed near the entrance to the restaurant.
Kellie Vaughan, center, is organizing protests outside Vince's Crabhouse restaurant locations to discourage customers from patronizing the restaurant because of what the protesters consider racist social media posts by the owner. This Vince's Crabhouse in Middle River is closed Sunday, June 7, 2020. Vaughan was joined by Deacon Anthony Anderson, left, Rikki Vaughn, right, and a handful of other protesters stationed near the entrance to the restaurant. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun)

One day after demonstrators confronted the operator of crab houses in Middle River and Fallston over racist comments made on social media, all of its locations were closed Sunday.

Kellie Vaughan organized protesters outside Vince‘s Crab House in Middle River for the second straight day, the fallout from anger incited by comments by the store’s operator, Vince Meyer, who is white.

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Vince’s has five locations, according to its website: Middle River, Manchester, Fallston and two in Dundalk. All five locations were closed Sunday. A police cruiser sat in the parking lot of the Manchester location early Sunday evening.

Outside the Fallston location, a sign on the window read, “Closed due to unexpected problem. Will keep you posted.”

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Protesters line Fallston Road as they rally against the owner of Vince's Crabhouse at the Fallston restaurant on Saturday, June 6.
Protesters line Fallston Road as they rally against the owner of Vince's Crabhouse at the Fallston restaurant on Saturday, June 6. (Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Multiple Facebook pages for the respective locations had been taken down by Sunday evening.

Meyer could not be reached for comment Sunday. Phone calls to the five locations went unanswered.

In one of multiple posts protesters deemed to be racist, screenshots of Meyer’s social media accounts that circulated online included one from June 1 that said: “There is one place I bet the protesters/rioters won’t light on fire or break into or even block the road to .... the social services buildings.” That was followed by four laughing emoji.

About 100 protesters gathered at the locations in Middle River and Fallston Saturday afternoon. The protests fall in the midst of widespread demonstrations following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Vaughan, 35, said she planned a peaceful protest for Saturday afternoon to shut the stores down and discourage customers from patronizing the restaurant. But word spread and people flocked earlier to the Middle River site, shaking doors and threatening the staff. Vaughan said she called Baltimore County police to calm the angry crowd and keep the protest peaceful.

The protest outside Vince’s Crab House in Middle River was considerably quieter Sunday afternoon than it was the previous day.

Three people carrying signs picketed in front of the storefront, while three people with a bull horn addressed passing motorists on the street.

A squad car from the Baltimore County Police Department drove through the parking lot twice, but never stopped. The restaurant doors were padlocked and the lights were off inside.

In a video posted to social media this week, Meyer said, “I went to bed what I thought was an honest business owner and woke up being demonized and just being called a straight-up racist.”

Meyer’s response video was 8 minutes and 46 seconds long, which was noted by a sign carried by one demonstrator on Saturday.

Eight minutes and 46 seconds is the length of time that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck. Chauvin was fired and has been charged with second-degree murder.

Vaughan said she will continue to mobilize and strategize with the intent of continuing protests in the coming days.

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"Our goal is to maintain a constant presence here until we shut him down,” Vaughan said.

Baltimore Sun reporters Pamela Wood, Mary Carole McCauley and photographer Amy Davis contributed to this article.

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