Businessman accused of racism after using slurs at Tacoma protest
TACOMA, Wash. -- A downtown business owner said he "snapped" during a Black Lives Matter protest and never meant to use racial slurs against the crowd.
The confrontation was captured on video, which was posted on social media. The n-word can be heard being shouted in the footage, which also depicts a lot of bumping and pushing.
"I wasn't going out there to start a race war or anything stupid like that," said Les Voros-Bond, who owns Dorky's Bar Arcade on Pacific Avenue.
Voros-Bond didn't plan to insert himself into a civil protest. However, he said he had to act when he saw demonstrators blocking traffic in downtown Tacoma on Sunday.
"So I came out with my megaphone and I started to try and help direct traffic," Voros Bond said, "and they were blocking me from directing traffic."
Almost every Sunday, people gather on Pacific Avenue to call for racial justice under the Black Lives Matter movement. A woman posted video on her Facebook page showing Voros-Bond mixing it up with protesters. In the post, she wrote that Voros-Bond "continually harassed us" and called her son "the n word" over and over.
Voros-Bond said the slur was actually directed at him, so he threw it back as a question.
"I'm definitely not a racist," he said. "I wasn't calling anybody the n-word. I was repeating it. And I was like, 'You're calling me the n-word? Me?'"
Voros-Bond and Caroline Dennewith, his common-law wife, own Dorky's Bar Arcade. They explained how people inside their business were afraid of the protesters outside.
"It was escalating violence," Dennewith said. "These families of all ethnicities were terrified to leave."
Prostest organizers dispute that. On the Tacoma Stands Up Facebook page, one participant wrote that "Les disturbed and attacked our peaceful group." He went on to call the businessman's actions an "outrageous display of hatred and violence."
KOMO News contacted the person who made the video Monday night, but she declined to be interviewed, saying the video speaks for itself.
Voros-Bond did make a personal apology and regrets he ever got involved.
"I just snapped," Voros-Bond said. "I shouldn't have even stepped in."
Voros-Bond said to make amends, he's willing to let the activists use his business to host a fundraiser for their cause.