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Published April 29, 2017

Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q Harass Raleigh Police Officers

A Raleigh police officer reported an upsetting display of disrespect that took place at Garner’s Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q last night.

Please read the update from Raleigh Chief of Police at the end of this article.

RELATED: Smithfield’s Chicken n’ Bar-B-Q and Raleigh Police: Both Sides of the Story.

Already, his Facebook post about the incident is beginning to go viral, with hundreds of shares and dozens of angry citizens leaving bad reviews on Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q Facebook page.

According to the Facebook post, the employees gathered together and began singing and chanting “F*ck the police” to the Raleigh Police Officers, who were simply eating their dinner. While I haven’t been able to get the entire story, it sounds like even the manager joined in the singing.

What I’d like to know is this:

What prompted the singing? Were the employees singing loudly and pointedly, drawing attention to the police, or were there just two or three kids singing under their breath, thinking it was “cool” to mock officers?

I have reached out to the officer who made the post, but I have not yet received a response to get more details about the incident. If I hear more, I will update here. In the meantime, I called the Garner store, where the incident took place, to verify whether or not the story was true, or if it was perhaps an exaggeration. The employee who answered the phone seemed nervous; when I told her I was calling to authenticate the truth behind the social media post, she told me nothing had happened. Quickly, she changed her answer to, “Well, I don’t know.”

I asked if I could speak to someone who did know, like a manager. She said, “No manager’s here.”

Then, I heard shuffling and muffled voices. A more confident-sounding man picked up the phone.

  • I hate whatever happened. I’m going through the process right now to figure it all out, but it takes time. I talked to everybody and the manager that was on the front. The manager said he didn’t hear anything. But now, I’m not saying that means anything. I think I surely wouldn’t have people on the back line singing, but (many of our employees) are young boys, and sometimes immature. I’m going through the tape right now and we’re gonna get to the bottom of it. And who ever was involved, I think they’re gonna have to leave here. I’m sorry you had to see this on Facebook, and we’re gonna get to the bottom of it.

Based on the current information, it sounds like two or three immature, young male employees and their on-duty shift manager took it upon themselvs to cause trouble and harass the officers.

Many people have responded with comments on the Garner Smithfield’s Facebook page, reminding them:

  • “I’d love to see who these guys call the next time there’s a robbery. Maybe the police just shouldn’t come.”
  • “It doesn’t matter if it was an isolated incident or not, it never should have happened. For your employees to sing “F**k the police” as they are there trying to eat is deplorable and inexcusable! And if it is true that a manager sang along and condoned this disgraceful act, then it seems to me that everyone working on that shift needs to be replaced. A real manager would have shut down that disgusting behavior and would have immediately terminated anyone that was involved in it.
  • The current management and staff disrespecting the Raleigh police department is absurd. They put their lives on the line everyday. At least y’all can feed them. Every time we go to Smithfield, there’s police always there eating. So I’m sure they pay a couple pay checks. This is not right and I hope this problem gets fixed!

This public display of disrespect shows how divided our country is. Behavior like this is part of why police don’t feel safe when they patrol – I mean, if they can’t sit down and eat a BBQ sandwich after a long day of work without being harassed, how can they feel safe out there in the field?

And yes, of course a young citizen has every right to use their freedom of speech to say hateful things to an officer, and my suspicion is that’s exactly why they did it – to prove their freedom of speech and “put cops in their place.”

But here’s the thing: While some officers undoubtedly do abuse their power, many of them are good, hardworking people.

This isn’t just about “harassing cops.” Would it be okay if Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q harassed a group of teachers? What about a group of administrative assistants? No employees–or managers–should harass anyone who walks into their store.

Other commenters have been quick to point out that Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q’s owner very likely does not support this behavior, as the store is known for being inclusive and community-oriented.

One customer pointed out the owner’s active role in lending his time and voice to a vital political issue:

  • The owner was very involved in protesting HB2 last year. This doesn’t sound like the company culture there. They are super inclusive and go above and beyond to stress tolerance for all.

Another customer reached out to corporate and received this response:

Clearly, this incident is indicative of the current cultural climate towards police officers. It’s a world where a black teenager can’t play with a toy weapon without getting shot by officers, and a hardworking officer just eating his dinner can’t enjoy a BBQ sandwich without getting taunted.

And yes, one of those things is far worse than the other. But the polarizing dynamic is working together to create a more divided, less safe world. We have to start somewhere. Any ideas?

Update from Dave Green 4/29/17:

 

Update from Raleigh Police Department 5/3/17:

Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said there was no singing, and no other employees were involved in the incident She also said it was not witnessed by anyone else in the restaurant.

Despite reports, the two officers only witnessed one employee make eye contact with them and mouth the words “F… the Police.”

The lawyers for the Raleigh restaurant collaborated with Raleigh Police to conduct an internal investigation. Through interviews, they learned the two Raleigh officers were about 25 feet away from the employee when they saw the employee mouth the words.

Officials also released surveillance video of the day in question.

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  • heather

    Heather

  • I sincerely believe that through the power of storytelling, I can make social issues become more than a set of statistics. My expertise is in community leadership, non-profit work, event coordinating, networking, and storytelling. My resume. All my articles.

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