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Protests continue at Vince’s Crab House as restaurants reopen after owner’s racist social media posts

Protest continues at Vince’s Crabhouses in Middle River, it opened for business after a nine-day closure after a racist comments by the operator.

Customers and employees at Vince’s Crab House in Middle River were met by a dozen angry protesters on Monday amid an ongoing boycott by black customers over the owner’s racist posts on social media.

It was the first time Vince Meyer’s five crab houses had been open since last weekend, when nearly 100 people surrounded the restaurants in Middle River and Fallston to protest screenshots that had circulated of Meyer’s Facebook posts.

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The posts included one from June 1 that mocked Black Lives Matter protesters, as well as older posts in which he used a racial slur and expressed support for George Zimmerman, the Florida man who fatally shot black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Meyer posted an apology video after the first protest on June 6, amid the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd and other black people killed by police. Meyer declined multiple requests for comment Monday.

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Kellie Vaughan, a regular customer from East Baltimore who organized the boycott, said Meyer’s apology is insufficient.

Vaughan used a loudspeaker to call on Meyer to denounce his earlier comments as she stood on the sidewalk adjacent to the crab house located in a Middle River shopping plaza.

Rikki Vaughn, a business owner and former Baltimore mayoral candidate, used the loudspeaker to encourage customers to buy seafood at black-owned crab houses instead. Vince’s serves a 75% black customer base, Meyer said previously, but Vaughn said Meyer has hired very few black people at his businesses.

“We’re not breaking windows or doors," Vaughn said. “We’re breaking bank accounts.”

Vaughan noted that the crab house has started a GoFundMe account to raise $500,000 to make up for business lost during the temporary shutdown. The GoFundMe description, which ends with “#smallbusinessesmattertoo,” said the Meyers’ have required “24/7 security" at their homes and businesses “due to death threats to us” since the protests began.

Vince’s has locations in Middle River, Fallston, Dundalk, North Point and Manchester.

At least three police cars filled the Middle River restaurant’s parking lot Monday, along with private security officers. The officers told protesters they couldn’t demonstrate in the parking lot because it’s private property, but many of them occasionally entered to explain to customers why they’re boycotting Vince’s.

One black customer, who declined to give his name, said he didn’t know about Meyer’s comments, and thanked the protesters for their education and seafood recommendations.

Amy LeBrun of Middle River cheered and waved with a cardboard sign in support for Vince’s as she entered the business. She worked at the restaurant over a year ago, and she said Vince’s is filled with some of the “most loving and caring” people around. She called the protests “crazy and stupid.”

“They got the best seafood around and it’s my business," LeBrun said.

Alexis Epps of Timonium carried a sign that said “#86TheHate," a reference to a new Baltimore group formed to expose discrimination in the dining industry. Epps said she’s “tired of hearing about racism in the industry," and added their fight is against all forms of the “generational curse” of racism.

“This entire country has been built on monetizing black lives,” Epps said. “It started with Native Americans and it has to stop."

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