White customer spits at Lily Damtew, Old Town Alexandria, Virginia coffee store owner after demanding he leave the store after refusing to wear face mask amid the coronavirus.
The unidentified man stormed out of Abyssinia Market and Coffee House in Old Town Alexandria, but not before spitting on store owner Lily Damtew the Alexandria Times reports.
‘For me, wearing a mask is protecting me and then my family and friends and everyone around me,’ Damtew who is black told the outlet. ‘I have very sensitive customers. (Most of my) customers are neighborhood people. I know them well. I’m protecting the community.’
But there’s more. After having left the outlet, the unidentified customer returned some time later only to hurl a bowl of food at the shop.
Of note, the cafe’s policy is in line with the state’s official mandate that people should wear face masks in public when inside, newsweek reports.
The ‘incident’ unfolded around 7:40 a.m. Sunday, when the man walked into the Jefferson Street coffee house without a mask, ignoring a sign posted on the door saying the face coverings are required.
‘He’s like, ‘I’m not wearing a mask. I don’t have to wear a mask anywhere I go,” Damtew said.
Despite even offering to supply the customer with a mask of her own, the man continued to protest.
The man according to Damtew allegedly claimed, ‘Virginia doesn’t support this. Alexandria doesn’t support this,’ with the store owner challenging the man, ‘Yes, there’s a law if you go into certain places you have to wear a mask.’ And after that he got very upset.”
‘At that point (he said), ‘You people, if we do this to you, you people,’ Damtew added. ‘It was getting worse so I said, ‘Please leave,’ and he wasn’t leaving. He said a lot of things. He used the B-word. He used the F-word. He called me ugly something.’
Eventually, the man — whom she described as tall, skinny and white — left after she held the door open, only to spit on her feet as he walked past her.
Damtew, who was alone in the shop, called the police and a neighbor.
Lily Damtew, a Black woman who owns Abyssinia Market & Coffee House in Old Town Alexandria was verbally assaulted/spat on by a man refusing to wear a mask inside of her shop. Hate has no place in VA, and I’m proud to see the community stand up for her. https://t.co/OSa0gCPZRH
— Karishma Mehta for No Cops In Schools (@karish4va) July 9, 2020
‘She was crying on the phone when she asked me to come down,’ the neighbor, Jean told the Times. ‘By the time we got there, she had calmed down a little bit and she was very upset, but she told us what happened, that someone had come in when she was alone and … she’s a small, petite woman.’
”You people,” she said. ‘Obviously, we understood what he meant. He was white. She was black.’
Police responded and spoke to Damtew, then set out to find the ‘white’ customer. That’s when he came back.
‘My back was to the window and I heard a bang type thing,’ Jean said. ‘He had thrown, we don’t know what it was, the officer thought it was chicken and rice, but threw all this food all over the door, the picture window, the table that was out there.’
‘I jumped because of the noise,’ she said. ‘And by the time I looked around, he was gone. We could see him running down the street.’
Cops eventually caught up with the food-hurling assailant but declined to identify him, nbcwashington reports.
— Alexandria Gazette (@AlexGazette) March 10, 2016
Damtew has kept the shop closed and is considering shutting down for good, she told the Alexandria Times.
‘Knowing that I’m there all the time by myself and even though I know I can call police I was just thinking it might be too late,’ she said. ‘What if this guy comes back and does something else.’
The local community has since showed an outpouring of support for Damtew, inundating the front door of her outlet with pink stickers, imploring her to stay the course, including one message which read, ‘you make this community greater, I stand with you…’
‘Can’t wait to see your door open again,’ read another.
To date, police have declined to make an arrest. The case is investigated as a simple assault, due to the spitting incident.