Dozens protest outside Greenville restaurant after owner’s social media posts

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Dozens of people protested outside of a Greenville restaurant on Monday, saying the owner made some questionable comments on social media.

“I’ve always had very good relations with the black community here. People who know me know I’m not a racist,” the owner of Tanner’s Big Orange Restaurant, John Zeller, said.

John Zeller had to close his restaurant on Monday because of the demonstrators.

He said the post he made was “foolish, provocative, and inflammatory.” He then summarized it for us.

“The Black Lives people wouldn’t be satisfied even if white people gave their wives to these men to have sex with–they still wouldn’t be satisfied.”

Zeller has now deleted his Facebook account.

“I’m profoundly sorry for saying something impulsively,” he said.

Zeller told 7 News he was worried his business may be damaged, but the protesters remained peaceful.

“We’re not here to burn down his place. That’s not who we are,” protester Malendia Dawkins said. “We’re here to send a message to him.”

“When I first learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement when I was ten, I promised myself I would always side with black people to make sure that they had equal treatment,” another protester added.

Now, Zeller said he’s hoping to be forgiven.

“I don’t believe this is going to put us out of business,” Zeller said.

Demonstrators hope they’ve made their message clear.

“We’re not going to take this anymore. We’re here. Respect us,” Dawkins said. “We want the same thing that everybody else wants.”

Some protesters told 7 News they plan to be back out at the restaurant again on Tuesday.

According to event organizers, free COVID-19 testing will be offered to protesters this week at the TD Convention Center in Greenville.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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