An unknown person allegedly threatened to burn down a Chattanooga-area restaurant this past weekend after a news station reported — erroneously — that restaurant owners would donate food to a rally that supported local police.
Online threats forced employees at that restaurant, Shuford’s Smokehouse, to take drastic measures to protect their business, said Madison Davis, whose father, Jeff, owns the restaurant.
“A lady placed an order Tuesday for food for Saturday. She said she was taking it to the [pro-police] Back the Blue Rally in Chattanooga. It was just a business transaction. We did not donate the food. One of the news channels reported on Thursday that we were supplying the food for the rally. So they made it sound like we donated the food, and we did not. Whenever that got reported is when we started getting threats, threatening phone calls, harassment, nasty negative reviews on our Facebook,” Davis told The Tennessee Star Monday.
“We had to take our Facebook [page] down within an hour of the report coming out. We went from a 4.8 to a 4 [rating] in less than an hour because of people blowing it [Facebook] up, calling us nasty things that I really don’t want to repeat. We finally got a threat that someone was going to burn our building down where we smoke all of our meat in. That is when we decided to cancel. We didn’t want to do the transaction anymore.”
Davis would not say which news station reported the false news about their establishment. She said she did not want “to start more trouble.” Davis did say that station employees apologized — but she also said they never provided their viewers with a rebuttal or any other statement correcting the record.
Davis said restaurant staff notified police.
“We did reach out to the person who started the slandering, the videos and the posts. He said that he would take down the post and videos if we made a public statement that it was not donated. Per our attorney’s advice, we did that. Instead of following through with his word, he did not take down the slandering stuff,” Davis said.
“Instead he twisted our words and made it worse than what it is. Now we aren’t saying anything at all. We are just letting our attorneys handle it.”
The Star found only one person on Facebook, in a public post, calling Shuford’s racist.
“They are mocking the movement and awarding brutality of black people by police by feeding them today and having a Blue Lives Matter rally,” the Chattanooga resident said last Thursday.
Davis said her family has owned the restaurant since 1987.
“It’s hurtful. We’re not racists. It’s not a reflection of us at all. It hurts that someone can start that kind of slander and get away with it. It’s also kind of shocking that that’s the day and age that we live in. That that rumor can even be started. We’re trying to get through the Fourth of July and combat slander,” Davis said.
“We’re just trying to make it. And then there’s all the COVID stuff going on. We’re just trying to keep our head above water at this point, not business-wise. We are just trying to get through it all.”
– – –