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Family behind Vince’s Crab House say police aren’t protecting them from protesters

Vince's Crab House owner files complaint against county for not enforcing the rule of law to allow the business to operate without interference from protesters.

The Meyer family that owns Vince’s Crab House in Middle River say Baltimore County Police are failing to protect them from social justice protesters, and they allege the county executive ordered officers to “stand down.”

Brenda Meyer said she believes such an order was issued after the Meyer family asked the officers for help.

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“The officers have told me on numerous occasions that they’re doing what they are allowed to do,” she said. “I asked if they are on ‘stand down,' and they said ‘yes.‘”

A spokesman for County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. responded by saying the claim was “not grounded in facts or reality.” A police department spokeswoman also said the claim was false.

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The Meyers invited reporters to Vince’s Crab House Wednesday, saying they wished to tell their side. Brenda’s son and waterman Vince Meyer drew the ire of protesters for his comments on Facebook disparaging the protests sweeping the nation after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police and using racial slurs in the past.

His comments circulated widely online. In the days and weeks afterward, the family says, they were harassed and intimidated by protesters while police simply stood by.

“It’s time the law is enforced,” Brenda Meyer said. “It’s time for us to walk outside our own business without being yelled and screamed at... it’s time for our customers to feel safe.”

Outside, about a dozen protesters stood on the sidewalk Wednesday, some holding “Black Lives Matter” signs, and waved to passing cars.

The restaurant has become the epicenter of dueling accusations of assault, harassment and intimidation between the protesters and Meyers. The protesters said Wednesday they were holding their own press conference Friday morning and they would withhold their thoughts until then.

Meanwhile, protesters Anthony Heath and Tamara Tolbert have filed misdemeanor assault charges against Vince Meyer, alleging he sprayed them with a hose outside the restaurant and used racial slurs. The Meyers, in turn, filed charges against Heath and Tolbert for misdemeanor assault, destruction of property and trespassing. Trials are scheduled for October.

The Meyers said they have spent more than $40,000 to hire private security guards. They said they have been followed home, called in the middle of the night, and received death threats. Vince Meyer’s Social Security number was posted online, they family said.

It all traces back to Vince Meyer’s Facebook comments mocking the protests and the social justice movement. On Wednesday, he expressed regret.

“I definitely regret saying it just because it is so offensive,” he said.

The family appeared alongside former state Del. Pat McDonough — who himself has drawn criticism for the way he talks about race — and state Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, both Republicans from Baltimore County. Attorneys with the Laurel-based nonprofit Respect the Constitution MD are representing the family.

McDonough said the protesters are going too far and seeking to ruin the family business over Facebook comments.

“We don’t give people capital punishment for jaywalking,” he said.

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After the Meyer family accused Olszewski of ordering police to stand down, his spokesman, Sean Naron, said police received no such orders.

“The men and women of County law enforcement have consistently gone above and beyond in service to all residents of our community regarding this matter,” Naron wrote in an email. “The County will continue to protect residents’ first amendment rights to peaceful protest while doing whatever is necessary to ensure public safety.”

Sgt. Vickie Warehime, the police spokeswoman, said officers are not under any orders to stand down.

“The Baltimore County Police department’s approach for all protests has been consistent and focused on protecting life, property and first amendment rights for all,” she wrote in an email.

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