More than 30 protesters showed up at Pizza Peel & Tap Room in Plaza Midwood on Monday night in support of Andrew Woods, who was recently fired from the establishment following prolonged harassment from an Albemarle-based white supremacist group called Deplorable Pride.
In the presence of about 20 police officers standing inside and outside, protesters staged a sit-in inside the restaurant. When police threatened them with arrests, they moved outside while Woods stayed behind to meet one-on-one with Will Bigham, an owner of the restaurant.
Woods then listed demands that he and fellow activists had formulated as a way to come to a compromise with Stomp, Chomp & Roll (SCR), a Charlotte-based restaurant group that owns all Pizza Peel locations, Improper Pig and The Flying Biscuit Café. Protesters demanded that all SCR owners place Black Lives Matter placards at the entrance of their establishments; donate $1,000 to charities of the protesters’ choosing; make monthly food donations worth $1,500 to help feed the local homeless population; and provide all management staff with diversity training run by black and trans women.
Each demand was turned down without discussion, Woods said after the meeting.
“They were unwilling to listen or even have time to discuss the demands. They categorically said no,” he said.
The controversy began weeks ago, when Woods posted a since-deleted Facebook post calling for “brutal harm” to all white Trump supporters. That garnered a response from Deplorable Pride, an Albemarle-based white supremacy group that had harassed Woods in the past.
Members of the group have since sent threatening messages to Woods, including one from Michael Grahan that said, “Wish I would run into this silverback looking fool. I would drag his commie ass by his beard will (sic) beating the shit out of him while singing the Star-Spangled Banner!” Woods said that he also received private messages directly threatening his wife and family.
He has responded with offers to fight any member of Deplorable Pride, which he followed up on after his meeting on Monday night.
“They have made a habit of not fighting me despite my repeated invitations to do so,” Woods said. “I will fight all of you here, just come meet me anytime, I’ll fight the shit out of you. They instead found out where I worked and threatened my employers by leaving negative reviews on Facebook.”
It was offers like this that Woods’ employers at Pizza Peel used as their reasoning to fire him, calling in three police officers to do so, though Woods’ supporters believe the restaurant owners simply capitulated to Deplorable Pride’s harassment and negative reviews.
According to Woods, it was the involvement of police that sparked the protests.
“I can’t emphasize enough that my termination is not the issue here,” Woods said on Monday. “I get fired from jobs. [I’m a] loudmouth, troublemaking communist. I’m not the most likable dude in the world. I’ve been fired. I know how to take a firing. That’s not the problem. The problem is the weaponization of police against me as a person of color. The weaponization of the police by white communities and white businesses against people of color is an act of violence against people of color.”
Woods addressed his fellow protesters following Monday night’s meeting, stating that protests would continue.
“That was volume level one. Next time we go to five, guys,” he said to cheers from fellow protesters.
When asked later if he knows what volume five will look like, Woods responded, “We do and they will soon.”
Queen City Nerve contributor Grant Baldwin was at the sit-in taking photos, which can be found in the slideshow below.