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Lincoln Cafe Hit With Backlash From Social Media Mob

Walker Evans Walker Evans Lincoln Cafe Hit With Backlash From Social Media MobPhoto by Walker Evans.
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Late on Monday night, local ABC affiliate WSYX reported that a Columbus police officer had been injured earlier in the day when biting into a sandwich that contained shards of glass at the Lincoln Cafe on East Long Street. The officer was rushed to Grant Medical Center where he was treated and released. The Columbus Police Department issued a statement at 11:30 yesterday morning stating that while the investigation was still ongoing, there was no reason to believe that the glass was placed there intentionally.

The Columbus Public Health Department conducted an inspection yesterday morning based upon the complaint, which discovered “several small clear glass plates with small chips on rim” and “under drying rack were found four small pieces of clear, broken glass”, according to the report. The report also detailed that the situations were remedied by instructing the person in charge of the kitchen to “examine all plates and discard any damaged plates” and “the complete cleaning of the three-bay sink and the drying rack”.

While the incident is certainly unfortunate for everyone involved, and in most instances would result in someone being fired from their job, a large contingency of social media users took to their platforms of choice to have a virtual field day with the news. The mob mentality was in full effect once the local story went viral and was reported on by news outlets from New York to California, including wide-reaching online publications such as The Huffington Post and The Blaze. The wide-spread coverage converted quickly into backlash fueled by a social media mob across Facebook, Yelp and other platforms.

Many responses posted yesterday included fake reviews from Yelpers with physical addresses located all across the US, and racist Facebook comments taking aim at the African American business owners at the Lincoln Cafe. Insults were hurled, boycotts were called for, and death threats were made.

“I was on Yelp this afternoon when I noticed some of my Yelpers had started a talk thread about Lincoln Cafe — they were obviously concerned and wanted to help,” Yelp Columbus Community Manager Bryant Miller told us last night. “Within a few minutes we had placed an ‘active cleanup alert’ on their page, which lets consumers know that this business had recently been in the media and reminds them of some of our terms of service. The gist of it is, only authentic consumer experiences will remain after the cleanup.”

The policy is a newer one for Yelp, which has seen similar mob responses to national media stories that have impacted small businesses in a similar way. Miller said that with this phenomenon happening more and more often, the alert system is designed to help prevent the situation from getting out of control.

“I was most upset by the racially-charged ‘reviews’, and so were other Columbus Yelpers,” he stated. “I think it’s also important to remember that cases like this are the exception, not the rule.”

Facebook currently doesn’t have a similar proactive program in place to respond in these situations. Business owners have individual administration tools to hide or delete comments, ban users from making further comments, and delete or hide visitor posts or reviews. That process is likely daunting in the case of the Lincoln Cafe, which has accumulated over 600 one-star reviews in a single day after Monday’s news went viral.

“Social media has been lauded for the way it allows anyone with a social footprint to share their point of view,” explains Social Media expert Danny Brown in a blog post from 2014 on the emerging trend of the mob mentality. “The trouble with anything that offers this kind of untethered “freedom” is that it often leads to untethered hate. Instead of leading to mature discussions around common goals, frustrations and injustices, it’s led to the bear pit mentality that we seem to be seeing more of. Ironically, as social media matures, the audience seems to be going the other way.”

The owners of the Lincoln Cafe have been reached out to for comment, but have not responded as of the time of publishing.

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  • David Harrison

    #BlueLivesMatter

    • This article states pretty clearly that it was an accident am I missing something? No one said or even implied that cops lives don’t matter, also no one was killed, or even hurt unjustly it was a mistake.

      • Kelly Jackson

        Please, we all know that’s a bogus excuse from a black power bigot whose just upset he got caught and didn’t anticpate the backlash.

        If you REALLY believe the owners bogus version of events you’re either really really stupid, or just a liar.

      • Ronaldus_Maximus

        It states its being claimed as an accident. I don’t believe in coincidence. One customer, a cop, gets his mouth shredded by broken glass on a sandwich. I’m willing to bet his wasn’t the only sandwich of the day. But he got the glass? You betcha.

      • This coffee shop opened in 2008. The Columbus Police Accident Investigation Unit is located in the same building.

        The coffee shop has been serving a lot of police officers food and drink for nearly a decade without incident.

        This sounds like a complete (and unfortunate) accident, as determined by the Columbus Police Department and Columbus Public Health department investigations.

        The fact that it was an officer that was injured instead of any other customer was highly likely given the large number of police officers who visit this coffee shop.

        The surge of complete randos claiming this has anything to do with race is just more of the sad bigotry that is ruining this country with divisiveness instead of seeking solutions to bring all people together.

        • bpete

          Thanks, Walker. Both your comment and this article shed some light on what seems to be a growing problem when stories like this one come out. My first reaction when I saw the news headlines was that it was probably intentional… and I don’t like that I immediately made an assumption without many or all of the facts. I appreciate the reality check.

  • Donny Brook

    96% of black people believe that Michael Brown had his hands up, while only 72% of white people believe that Lincoln Cafe intentionally put glass in a police officer’s food.

    Turn around is fair play I guess.

    • sweetlikeacid

      Perhaps 96% and 72% of people polled, but obviously 96% and 72% were NOT polled. There are over 300 million people in the US. THE article and video don’t mention race. No matter how you attempt to twist it, white people here are not victims. People are extremely ignorant for turning this into a black vs white issue. The officer is Asian.

      • john_koenig

        And we all know how some blacks hold Asians in high esteem, right?
        Just ask the average Korean merchant in South Central…

  • Catalacjack

    It would only take one bad employee. Most restaurants have cameras in the food prep area for just such a reason. Check the video.

  • Nun Ya

    Gotta say that it greatly concerns me that glass was found in the food! That causes a kind of gut reaction & worry that anyone of us could be next, because at very best they are negligent & not running a safe business!
    The other issue is the police officer being the one who just happened to receive the glass sandwich! If it was an intentional act by a rogue employee, that employee needs to go!
    The business owner is in a tough position. I would suggest that instead of running from it-he come out and talk about the situation & use it as an opportunity to remind everyone he is a member of the community, small business owner, etc who is completely dedicated to the community and is thankful for and supports public servants-especially the police who he has a close relationship with! Reiterating his dedication to the community as a whole… Maybe get some help from the PD… May actually serve to bring people together as a community with him as the hub… With employees who care about his product and business-not willing to intentionally or unintentionally harm his life’s work as well!!!

  • Nick Speelman

    The internet (including the comments on this post) has made it abundantly clear that the average person (including myself) neither needs nor deserves a platform from which to be heard around the world.

  • john_koenig

    YOU introduced the fact that the officer was Asian. I simply responded with a fact…that relations between blacks and Asians is this country have been poor for decades. And yes, I watched TV…live during the 1992 LA riots as Koreans defended their businesses against black hooligans. That makes me an observer and hardly a “racist bigot.” BTW, those words have no meaning in 2016…you millennial liberal snowfakes have worn them out.
    Tell me…who in city hall do you work for?

    • sweetlikeacid

      Actually, donny frost brought race into it along with many others. I simply stated not everything is black vs white and this couldn’t be in this case because the cop was Asian…not everything is a racial matter. And try again, I was born in the 80s, and also watched the riots. I’m hardly a liberal millennial snowflake.

      • john_koenig

        In the midst of a ten day period which saw eight police officers assassinated by black racists and countless calls for more violence against police officers nationwide, you can’t condemn anyone for suspecting a racist assault against a police officer…and in a predominantly black neighborhood, to boot.
        And pardon me if I don’t take your view of the riots and the participants with a grain of salt…you were ten years old at most. I was a 30 year old man.

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