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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Spyners Pub owner posts racist screed on Facebook, apologizes later
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2020-06-03

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Amidst almost a week of protests in support of #BlackLivesMatter in Chicago and other locations across the United States, Spyners Pub owner/general manager Maureen Sullivan posted a racist screed on Facebook that has since been deleted.

Spyners Pub—4623 N. Western Ave., in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood—has long been a place where LGBTQ people and their allies frequent.

Sullivan's post that has been shared via screen shot by multiple people on her May 13 Facebook post about her bar's renovations Facebook stated verbatim:

"I sent this to my friend Perkins. I would like you to read it. Perkin's it's this mentality repeated over and over by liberals marching for black lives. The demonstrators were primarily of all other races except for black. The blacks dominated the looting and destruction of our streets. The statement Black lives matter annoys the shit out of me. Everything and EVERYONE including animals, plants and the entire environment matters. Making that black lives matter statement sounds exclusive and privileged. Witnessing over 85 percent of looting by blacks and destroying businesses in there communities has defeated the entire protest. Your cousin lives in fear because people are afraid of this violence and entitlement black men display to the country.

"We are not dealing with Martin Luther king protestors who we were respectful and had a cause of civil rights. We heard enough from the protestors now let them go back to the communities they helped destroy clean them up and assist businesses who employed black men so we can get back to normal. This entire cause sickens me and they can all fuck off. I will be paying for it in the end. The looters will be sitting at home in their stolen gym shoes and Nike gear screaming oppression and racism. The cause was pointless and destroyed our great country. They have become domestic terrorists depleted our city's funds from the needy, sick and poor who need our help. They should be stopped and never allow to protest on our streets again. All protests should only be allowed in zoos because they act like animals beating up police, fire fighters city personal and damaging anything they see. This is not social justice. It's anarchy!!!"

When people posted their excitement over the renovations, Chadwick Johnson shared the above post via screen shot with the message "don't associate with racists."

A number of people did not respond to Johnson's reply to their original posts at first, and at least two women defended her statement and said she was not a racist. Over the course of the more than 370 replies to her renovations post, others shared Sullivan's screen shot. After that, most of the people posting denounced her statement and said they would be boycotting Spyners Pub when it reopens. The pub has been closed due to her renovations and the COVID-19 pandemic.

One post by Adrian Adams read "She's always been a racist!!! Came in once with friends that were black and she told me straight up she don't want that kind in her bar."

Another poster, Nic Lawson, stated, "Looks like we need to go knock on the Alderman's door and request removal."

Sullivan also posted another statement that was sent to this publication as a screenshot. It read, "Please do not try and shame me!!! Firstly I am not a racist. I am a humanitarian. People unfortunately get killed everyday by criminals. We need our police department. The police have saved Women, men, and children from our community and put their lives on the line. Black men are not the only ones who suffer the injustices of humanity. Women, men and children are sex trafficked, murdered and raped all around the world. Most rape victims, sex trafficker victims never see justice. Criminals work against our society and the police department. We must agree the police and civil servants are not abusing people like criminals. I agree that small percentages slip between the cracks. Perhaps, those few officers suffer from work frustration and abuse by protestors and the enormous disrespect displayed daily. However … ."

Following outcries from many people denouncing Sullivan's racist post and calling for a boycott, she posted an apology late June 2. The post, which has received more than 500 comments at the time of this publication, reads:

"Hello Everyone, I received many texts, messages and comments regarding the comment I made to my friend Perkins. In rereading the message I sent to her, I realize it was extremely insensitive. For this I am deeply sorry. I can see how my words impacted many as demeaning and insulting. I am deeply regretful for my words. Many have commented, that I am racist and a bigot. I promise that this is not true. In my reflection, I see how hard everyone has worked for this cause to improve the lives for Black Americans. I wrote and made statements not walking in the shoes of Black Americans. I spoke from watching the city being destroyed and as a small business owner I tried to protect my community from plunder. Many people suggested, I should claim my FB account was hacked to prevent to negative social media and backlash. I have refused to do that, because I am not a coward and I recognize I was wrong. I was offensive and insensitive to the Black Lives Matter Movement. I want to own it and reassure my intentions were never to harm or hurt anyone. I believe all people should be treated equally and justly and our fight should never stop until this is accomplished. I know its impossible to unring a bell, I also understand the backlash that will be attached to my previous comment, I understand some will forgive me and some will not. My deposition is never to hurt, harm or dehumanize any person or group. MY DEEPEST APOLOGIES Maureen."

Sullivan's apology received mixed responses, with some defending it while others further denounced her comments—and with some fights breaking out between these two groups.

"I offer this as a Black queer woman and not as a leader of an organization," Pride Action Tank Executive Director Kim Hunt told Windy City Times. "I am exhausted and do not have the energy to provide a list of receipts to counter the unmasked racism permeating Maureen Sullivan's original Facebook post. Being in the midst of a global pandemic and yet another racial fissure in this country make it clear that asking the owner of Spyners Pub to see Black people's humanity is the least of our worries. BLACK LIVES MATTER—period."

"It is unfortunate, but telling that Maureen would make such racist, reductionist and incendiary statements during a moment when Black people, supported by our allies, are crying out for justice, equity and dignity," Lighthouse Foundation Executive Director Jamie Frazier told Windy City Times. "Her apology is not enough. People should boycott her business. ... The only way this bigotry will stop is if the perpetrators pay the price. An apology is not enough. She wants looters held responsible. Well, I want racists held responsible."

"The racist Facebook post written by the owner of Spyners Pub further emphasizes a tale of two worlds within LGBTQ+ communities and highlights the need for ongoing work to build cultures of anti-racism within queer spaces," the board and staff of Affinity Community Services emailed Windy City Times. "We are beyond disappointed by the racist vitriol of the owner's commentary, but we are not shocked. As an organization, and as a community of Black LGBTQ+ people continuing a 25 year legacy of social justice work in Black LGBTQ+ communities, we cannot stress enough the importance of understanding that racism is a systemic issue and that this is just one of many examples of why the need for structural anti-racist change is so necessary."

"Maureen Sullivan's remarks highlight that even in the midst of a global pandemic, the most virulent and endemic of all conditions is racism and anti-Blackness," said Howard Brown Health Director of Strategic Partnerships Channyn Lynne Parker. "The call to silence protestors is one that is reflective of our country's leadership, which supports the militarization and the over-policing of Black communities. The cause that should sicken Ms. Sullivan are the countless lives that have been and continue to be lost due to systemic racism and the employing of supremacist systems against Black bodies."

When Windy City Times reached out to Sullivan via Facebook Messenger, she did not respond. No one answered when Windy City Times called Spyners Pub and there is no email listed for the establishment. Sullivan has also limited the number of people who are able to view her Facebook page.


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