The restaurant whose sidewalk was the scene of New York’s latest hate crime is taking heat on social media. Billie and Jacob James-Vogel were harassed and attacked for being an interracial couple outside Shi Restaurant in Long Island City, Queens, where they had just been celebrating Billie’s 40th Birthday. Internet denizens piled on the abuse when it was reported that Shi turned away the bloodied and bruised couple when they tried to re-enter the restaurant to get help. Even though restaurant management has denied giving the victims the cold shoulder, that hasn’t stopped would-be patrons from sticking it to the restaurant on social media.
Shi managers posted a statement to their website flatly denying that they refused to offer help, saying that in the confusion they thought help had already arrived.
We were not aware of the incident until it was over. In any event we were informed the Police were called and on their way. Neither Billie or Jacob Vogel was turned away. As a business serving Long Island City and beyond, we have a very diverse clientele and are very invloved (sic) in the community.
The statement doesn’t quite square with an earlier quote from the owner saying that he feared for the customers still inside.
Still, even with the apology/denial/whatever-it-is, many very angry people are flaming Shi on Twitter and Facebook, not to mention the deluge of one-star reviews on Yelp.
— Joseff Betancourt (@JoseffB) August 20, 2013
— Brendan Jordan (@BrendanJordan) August 20, 2013
The likelihood is low that we’ll ever fully know the extent of Shi’s involvement given all the conflicting statements. Which of course means everyone has to have an opinion. Some are coming to the restaurant’s defense, including City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who plans to hold his 44th birthday party at the restaurant tonight.
Send your story tips to the author, Raillan Brooks.