The owner of Hot Taco and Town Pump Tavern is facing criticism after his racist Facebook messages and posts were shared by an acquaintance.
Tanya Gazdik, an acquaintance of Sean Harrington, posted screenshots of messages and posts made by Harrington on Facebook last week in response to state politicians participating in Black Lives Matter protests and questions about COVID-19 precautions at his restaurants.
In one post, Harrington shared a photo Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Mayor Mike Duggan attending a rally last week, and called the “Stay home Stay Safe” order “bullshit.” He called the governor and other politicians hypocrites for participating in the protests and not observing social distancing. He then questioned the number of deaths from “spring break kids” and “people getting haircuts in Lansing.”
He added: “And I can’t wait to see the death toll in fact I’m hoping for it for the rioters and the a holes that screw with small business owners and employees (sic),” writing, “A bad flu kills the week (sic) and so many of you bastards love the fact that they stole over three months of our lives for their bullshit political agenda.”
Responding to someone who challenged his statements in the comment section, Harrington wrote: “You ain’t black! Biden is you’re (sic) master, Our you’ll get the whip again. Timmy [referring to the commenter]: Please show me the death toll from the people that got their haircut (sic) in Lansing? Or shut the fuck off.”
Gazdik sent a message to Harrington asking whether he would comply with state rules and require face masks when he reopened his business. Harrington responded: “Is this what they teach you in your slave catching classes? How to catch runaway slaves 101? I couldn’t imagine what it must be like for you going through life with no moral compass and being a complete hypocrite. But I guess that’s normal for you southern Democrats. But maybe around the time she [referring to Whitmer] lets the world re-open? I guess you’ll be dead, or a proven liar I guess I don’t care either way. You can fuck off now. Troll,” and concluded the message with a middle finger emoji.
Gazdik took screenshots of the conversation and posted them on a forum that documents businesses that follow social distancing rules in Michigan. This prompted others to share instances of Harrington’s bad behavior over the years. Since then, negative comments and one-star reviews have begun piling up on the social media and Yelp pages of Harrington’s restaurants and bars.
Harrington’s original posts have since been deleted.
In an interview with Deadline Detroit, Harrington responded to the “slave catching” comment, and stated that he was angry about being attacked by someone he didn’t know.
“She said she had 800 people and she said she was going to destroy me,” he said. “I don’t know where she got her tactics from, but I think she’s learned them from somewhere.”
He claimed that he and his family were receiving violent threats.
Gazdik told Eater that she met Harrington through a “mutual friend” 15 years ago.
“I thought it was cool he was opening restaurants and bars in Detroit and I wanted to support that. But after seeing what he’s posted on social media in the last few days, my opinion of him is forever soured,” she said, adding that she will never give business to his establishments ever again.
She also confirmed that she did not make the “800 people” comment that Harrington referred to, and provided a screenshot of their conversation as proof.
This isn’t Harrington’s first time facing criticism. In 2019, Harrington moved Town Pump Tavern to the former Centaur Bar space after he sold his previous building to a developer. He was viciously slammed for trying to abruptly evict the building’s residents, many of whom were low-income.
Sources: America Now