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Published May 5, 2017

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

God help me, I hope this post goes as viral as the original post about Smithfield’s Chicken n’ Bar-B-Q. But since this is a far less inflammatory story, I sadly doubt it.

By now, we’ve all heard the stories about what happened at Smithfield’s Chicken n’ Bar-B-Q. In fact, we’ve heard a few different versions.

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

We’ve heard the initial story, about the angry employees singing “F*ck the Police” and banging on pots and pans. Then, we either boycotted Smithfield’s to support our Raleigh Police, or we praised those employees for bravely using their freedom of speech.

Then, we heard the story that makes the Raleigh Police look pretty shameful. We heard there was never any singing, but that a social media post from a local police officer embellished the tale. There was never any singing. It was simply one employee, mouthing “F*ck the police” from 25 feet away, and honestly, we can never be sure if the police officer saw it correctly. Then, we either perceived Smithfield’s as a victim caught in the flames of social media’s court of public opinion, and we issued shamefaced apologies. Some of us even took this as a sign of police abusing their power, or being “crybabies” about a very small incident.

I am guilty, too. I heard the initial story, and I was angry. I took a moment to call Smithfield’s to verify the incident, took the word of a shaken employee, and helped stoke the flames. After all, why wouldn’t I believe the word of an employee and the word of a police officer?

 

I’ve heard a lot more stories since then.

Now, this site is not a news site; we’re an entertainment site that happens to report news from time to time. And you’re going to hate me as I break every rule in the journalism handbook. I’m going to give you information, with no quotes and no named sources. You don’t have to believe me. And it honestly doesn’t matter if you believe my facts, as long as we can agree on one simple point at the end. I’ll tell you when we get there.

When you’ve lived in Raleigh for more than 30 years, you have friends in every corner.

I have police officer friends. I have Smithfield’s friends. I have friends on both sides.

And because I tend to be a really nice person who works to build Raleigh up and make the world better, people trust me to try and help. So I’m going to try.

I’ve heard a lot of private stories that the news hasn’t published. I can’t quote them all. I can’t provide named sources. Because the story has caused so much ruckus, no one wants their names attached to it. But everyone wants to communicate across lawyers and red tape and media and the jumbled court of public opinion. And after hearing all these stories from people on several sides, this is what I’ve concluded:

  1. Every major player involved is actually a pretty good, moral, upstanding person. None of them deserve social media crucifixion.
  2. We will never know what really happened in Smithfield’s Chicken n’ Bar-B-Q that night. It’s literally a “he said, she said” situation.
  3. The Raleigh Police never intended to damage Smithfield’s reputation. They care about Raleigh; that’s why they’re cops.
  4. Smithfield’s has a lot of respect for the police and does a lot for our community, too. They would never want to disrespect police.
  5. The original poster did not intend to go viral. The original poster most likely did not really realize how fast social media can take off.
  6. All of us are guilty – we all helped make the social media go viral without waiting for more facts to come to light.

So if every major player involved in this horrible story is really a good person, who often strives to make Raleigh a better place, I think we can all reach one major conclusion:

Nobody wanted to hurt anybody else. Since we can never know the truth of what really happened, but we can know that the people involved are all people who tend to devote their personal time and efforts to improving the community, we can agree maybe it’s just a misunderstanding. Sometimes, even good people make big mistakes.

I spoke with Rick Armstrong of the Raleigh Police Protective Association, who was extremely helpful and open. He said this:

  • We unequivocally believe something happened. But we believe Smithfield’s did the right thing after the incident. We don’t agree on the facts, but we support our officers and we support Smithfield’s.

Armstrong says the RPPA has been discussing the possibility of doing an event at Smithfield’s, as a show of solidarity and community support.

Likewise, it’s important to note that Smithfield’s Chicken n’ Bar-B-Q often gives employment opportunities to people who may not, because of their history, have opportunities elsewhere. It gives good people another chance to build their lives up. Do we, as a community, really want to boycott them and tear that down?

We don’t need to hate the police or boycott a local business. We need to stop trying to punish people so severely. On social media, there’s a tendency to punish every mistake to the maximum penalty allowed in the court of public opinion.

Yes, some mistakes are worse than others. And I recognize this comes off as very “preachy.” I’m sorry. But I’ve been hearing so many sides of this story, directly from people involved. I wish I could share their quotes and stories — and maybe, when it all comes out, I can. But this is what I know from listening to the people themselves, instead of the media:

No one’s perfect. Everyone’s sorry. Nobody meant to hurt anybody else. And these are all people–from the owner of Smithfield’s to the Raleigh Police Department–who actually do a lot of good in our community every day. Let’s remember that

And let’s make this article of forgiveness go more viral than the original inflammatory ones.

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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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